The Possible Ebola Patient At Emory University Hospital Was An Aid Worker In West Africa

An American health-care worker exposed to Ebola has arrived at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the hospital said Thursday morning. The unidentified patient was working in West Africa when the patient was reportedly exposed to the deadly virus. The patient was transported from West Africa to Atlanta by a special medical aircraft.

Little is known about the new patient, including where in West Africa the patient was practicing as a health-care worker. At this time, it's unclear if the patient was treating Ebola victims in West Africa or working at a non-Ebola treatment center, such as in the case as Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone and died from the virus in November.

Emory officials can't confirm if the new patient has Ebola, only that there's a possibility the patient was in contact with the virus. Hospital officials said doctors will carefully monitor the patient to see if Ebola-like symptoms appear. No confirmation testing has been done.

The hospital released this statement early Thursday morning:

As anticipated, an American healthcare worker from West Africa who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus has been transferred to Emory University Hospital’s Serious Communicable Diseases Unit for testing and observation to see if an infection has been acquired.

The patient arrived at the hospital this morning at approximately 5:45 a.m. Phoenix Air provided transport from West Africa. Emory cannot share more details out of respect for patient privacy and in accordance with the patient’s wishes.

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So far, Emory University Hospital has treated four Ebola patients, including humanitarian health-care workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, Texas Health Presbyterian Nurse Amber Vinson, and a fourth patient who remains anonymous. All four patients were successfully cured of Ebola.

Just 10 Ebola patients have been treated in the United States, with a majority of the patients having contracted Ebola in West Africa. In September, Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, became the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Health-care workers Vinson and Nina Pham then contracted the virus from Duncan.

In West Africa, the Ebola epidemic is still dire, the death toll rising to over 6,000. More than 17,000 Ebola cases have been identified since the outbreak began at the beginning of 2014, according to the World Health Organization.

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On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a list of 36 U.S. hospitals that are certified Ebola treatment centers. Emory, of course, was on the list, along with Nebraska Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City, where Dr. Craig Spencer was recently treated for Ebola following his Doctors Without Borders trip. Most of the hospitals on the list are located in major cities, such as New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The CDC said it'll continue to update the list, as federal health officials continue to train more hospital workers across the United States in Ebola treatment and care.

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