State health official: Ebola not currently a health risk in CA

A medical worker from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works at the laboratory where Ebola specimens from the Congo were tested at the start of the latest outbreak.
A medical worker from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works at the laboratory where Ebola specimens from the Congo were tested at the start of the latest outbreak. Stephen Wandera/AP

A patient in Sacramento who is being tested for Ebola is at low risk for getting the disease, state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez said Wednesday. Chavez also stressed in a teleconference with reporters that if Ebola does show up in California, the state is well positioned to prevent it from spreading. 

In response to a reporter's question, Chavez said he would not identify which west African nation the Sacramento patient visited or came from, and he refused to provide any other details about the patient, citing privacy concerns.

Although the patient is considered at low risk for Ebola, his blood samples were shipped Tuesday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta out of "an abundance of caution," Chavez said. He said the results are expected in about three days. 

The patient is in isolation in a specially equipped negative pressure room at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, according to a statement from the hospital.

There have been no patients admitted to California hospitals considered to be at high risk for Ebola, according to CDC criteria, Chavez said.

The CDC determines patients'  level of risk for the disease based on their travel history, their symptoms and their level of exposure to the disease – for example, whether they cared for someone who was ill or attended a funeral for an Ebola victim.

Chavez said Ebola does not pose a public health risk to California at this time.

The case in Sacramento, he said, exemplifies how well prepared the state is to identify and deal with the disease. The state has the ability to isolate possibly contagious patients, and staff trained to take necessary precautions, like preventing exposure to body fluids, added Chavez.

"We've been working with our health care community in actually having...a very robust system to identify such cases, so we could promptly respond and isolate those cases from the rest of the community," he said.

The symptoms of Ebola can appear from two to 21 days after exposure, and include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and abnormal bleeding. More than half of those who have contracted it in the latest outbreak have died.

 

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