A patient at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center is being tested for possible exposure to the Ebola virus, officials confirmed.
The person has been admitted to the hospital and is in isolation as a precaution, according to Kaiser spokesperson Edwin Garcia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be testing blood samples to rule out the presence of the virus, Dr. Stephen M. Parodi, Kaiser infectious diseases specialist, stated in a news release.
Jonna Mazet, a researcher for emerging infectious diseases at UC Davis, said the blood samples are taken while the patient is in isolation.
"They may take some samples from other fluids because Ebola can be transmitted in blood, but it also can be transmitted with saliva and sweat," Mazet said.
The sample will then be tested by the CDC. Mazet said the results should come back within 48 hours.
The California Department of Health said there are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola in California, and no patients admitted to California hospitals were considered to be at high risk of Ebola.
"Some low-risk patients, like the one from Sacramento, may be tested out of an abundance of caution," CDHP said in a news release.
According to CDC, symptoms of the often fatal illness are fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and lack of appetite. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to ebola virus, although eight to 10 days is most common. Ebola can only be spread after symptoms appear.
There isn't a cure for the Ebola virus. Some patients do recover.
Patients and their families at the hospital said they were not being told of the quarantined patient. Rasheed Waheed, whose father is being treated at the hospital, said he felt administrators should be transparent about the possible case of Ebola.
"It's definitely a concern because the hospital should have advised people that they do have a situation like that so you can take extra precautions," Waheed said. "The whole family was upstairs right now. They would have definitely liked him to move to a safer place."
Others said they could understand why the hospital would keep the information from patients.
"Because if they tell that to some patients, there might be panic," Sacramento resident Roger Sanesa said.
Some wondered if the hospital is properly equipped for such a case involving the virus, which is contagious through contact with bodily fluids.
"Because it doesn't just involve one person. If it gets out of hand, it could affect other people." said Sacramento resident Katie Albert, who had just received treatment at the hospital emergency room.
Officials with the Sacramento County Health Department said they are in contact with both the hospital and the CDC in Atlanta to make sure all protocols are being properly followed.
The CDHP said in the news release, "The risk of the spread of Ebola in California is low. Any patient suspected of having Ebola can be safely managed in a California hospital following recommended isolation and infection control procedures. Suspect cases of Ebola will be investigated by local health departments in consultation with CDPH."
Four countries in West Africa are currently experiencing an outbreak of Ebola. According to CDC, there have been 1,229 deaths from the virus in 2014, and 2,240 confirmed and suspected cases.
Here is the complete statement from Dr. Parodi:
We are working with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health regarding a patient admitted to the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be testing blood samples to rule out the presence of the virus.
In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease. This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists. This enables the medical center to provide care in a setting that safeguards other patients and medical teams.
The safety of our members, patients and staff is our highest priority. Our physicians and infectious disease experts are working closely with local and state public health agencies to monitor developments and share information.