Suspected Ebola patient in California tests negative for virus

Hours after a suspected Ebola patient in Sacramento was found to be free of the virus, a second person hospitalized in California`s capital was reported by public health officials on Friday to be undergoing evaluation and testing for the disease.

Reuters| Updated: Jan 31, 2015, 05:51 AM IST

Sacramento: Hours after a suspected Ebola patient in Sacramento was found to be free of the virus, a second person hospitalized in California`s capital was reported by public health officials on Friday to be undergoing evaluation and testing for the disease.

The second patient was admitted to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center on Wednesday, a day before the earlier patient came to light, and like the previous case is considered to be at low risk of having contracted the deadly virus, the hospital said in a statement.

There was no immediate word on whether the two cases were linked or whether the second patient had traveled recently in West Africa, the epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic on record, as had the first. No mention was made of any symptoms.

The previous patient was transferred to the University of California-Davis Medical Center from another hospital in Sacramento on Thursday after exhibiting unspecified Ebola-like symptoms, health officials said.

But test results returned on Friday were negative for infection, they said.

Although the first patient was known to have traveled in West Africa during the past few weeks, no information about the individual`s identity, background or even gender was released.

Yet another individual in Sacramento was hospitalized in August as a potential Ebola patient but tested negative days later.

At least 10 people are known to have been treated for Ebola in the United States, four of them diagnosed with the disease on U.S. soil, during a West African epidemic that has killed at least 8,800 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Only two people are known to have contracted the virus in the United States - two nurses who treated an Ebola patient from Liberia who became sick while visiting Dallas. That man, Thomas Duncan, died in October.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta gave approval to Sacramento County in the past month to test blood samples of potential Ebola cases in its own public health laboratory rather than requiring samples to be sent to the CDC for analysis, said Laura McCasland, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Department of Public Health.

The new protocol reduces the turnaround time for such lab results from days to about 24 hours, she said.