Seeking to calm Los Angeles County residents rattled by confusing reports about a patient rushed from LAX to Centinela Hospital late Tuesday night, officials have announced that there are no suspected or confirmed Ebola cases in the county at this time.
“This traveler is not considered a suspected case,” said interim county health officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, during a phone call with reporters Wednesday.
“We don’t have an outbreak and we don’t expect an outbreak,” he added. “What we’d expect at most is a single case.”
To qualify as a suspected Ebola case, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a patient must have a travel history to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea and must also have a fever, Gunzenhauser said.
The Centinela Hospital patient had been in Liberia, but otherwise did not meet those criteria.
Gunzenhauser would not reveal whether the patient had been tested for Ebola, confirming only that “a number of tests have been performed, all appropriate” and that results remained “in process." He also declined to provide any details about what symptoms the traveler might have been displaying when paramedics decided to transport him to Centinela hospital.
Gunzenhauser said he believed the patient might be permitted to leave the hospital within “a half a day or so.”
Paramedics decided to take the patient to the hospital upon learning that he had traveled from Liberia to the U.S., taking a connecting flight to Los Angeles, Gunzenhauser said.
The responders and the hospital correctly followed all appropriate infection control protocols, he said, donning gowns, masks, goggles and gloves.
Gunzenhauser praised paramedics and hospital staff for their handling of the situation.
“The main thing is to notify frontline providers to be highly suspicious,” he said. “The team at Centinela did that well.”
He said he expected that there would be more reports of possible cases -- which may not rise to the level of suspected cases -- in weeks to come.
“All of you should expect you’ll continue to hear about these things as long as Ebola is not under control in Africa,” he said. “I think what we’re hearing about is good news. It shows hospitals are doing what they’re supposed to do: looking for cases, contacting [the public health department,] and making sure everyone is protected.”
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