Hawaii Department of Health rules out Ebola in Honolulu patient

Queen's Medical Center
Queen's Medical Center

The Hawaii Department of Health has ruled out Ebola in a Honolulu patient.

The patient was in isolation and undergoing testing at Queen’s Medical Center.

“After investigation by the health department, it was determined that the individual did not meet the clinical or travel exposure criteria for an Ebola infection,” said Health Director Dr. Linda Rosen.

The department said Thursday that the patient was no longer under evaluation for possible Ebola infection.

“The hospital acted in the best interests of the community, with an abundance of caution,” Rosen said. “We commend the facility for being prepared and remaining vigilant regarding the risk of Ebola.”

Health officials did not provide any other details about the patient.

Dr. Melissa Viray, deputy state epidemiologist, told KHON2 on Wednesday that the patient could have a number of illnesses with similar symptoms, including flu, malaria and typhoid.

“What we’ve asked the hospitals to tell us about is anyone with a travel history, and anyone with a fever.  And when those things come together, we’ve asked them to be very careful and in an abundance of caution while you’re working, for whatever else might be going on, also make sure you isolate against Ebola, just in case,” she said.

Red flags for Ebola include fever and recent travel to West Africa.

There are 1,400 nurses assigned to work at The Queen’s Medical Center. The hospital has assured them that procedures are in place to protect them should the hospital encounter a case of Ebola.

“Blood and fluid procedures are safe, but there are a lot of contagious things you can come in contact with,” Joan Craft, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association, told KHON2. “Ebola is very frightening, but procedures are safe, and we just want to make sure everyone knows that.”

Experts gave us that reassurance last month and said then that unless you traveled to an area that was experiencing an outbreak, the risk of contracting Ebola is very low.

There is no room designed specifically for Ebola at The Queen’s Medical Center, but the hospital says it is equipped to deal with the virus if needed.

“If someone showed up in the ER with suspected Ebola symptoms, they would immediately be placed in an isolation room,” Erlaine Bello, The Queen’s Medical Center infectious disease specialist, previously told KHON2. “The door would be closed at all times. There would be a facilities log kept of everyone who entered the room and anyone who entered the room at a minimum would be wearing gloves, eye protection, goggles and a mask, and impermeable gown.”

Dr. Bello said major hospitals and the health department have a good relationship with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that the state itself has the resources and the expertise to handle a case of Ebola if it were to appear here in the islands.

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