A woman who was being monitored for the Ebola virus in Multnomah County after traveling to West Africa was hospitalized Friday with a “sustained fever.” County health officials say she had developed a fever that rose to 102 degrees.
A fever can be a symptom of Ebola, but health officials also pointed out that other diseases cause fevers - like malaria.
The woman was hospitalized at Providence Milwaukie hospital. OPB’s Kristian Foden-Vencil was at the press conference in Portland where health officials talked about the case. He talked to Spencer Raymond at OPB.
Spencer: Do we know whether this patient has Ebola?
Kristian: We don’t know at this point. But what we do know is that at some point this woman was in either Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea.
She arrived in Portland and was told that she needed to monitor her temperature two times and day, but that she was free to travel around.
Then this morning about about 8:30 she had a high temperature.
A person she was staying with tested her the next hour and she had a temperature of about 102.
Emergency Medical Services personnel were then sent in — wearing personal protection suits - to transport her to Providence Hospital.
Spencer: Health officials say she was a low risk case. Why?
Kristian: Well, while she had traveled to one of those three West African countries, she is not a medical worker and she hadn’t come into contact with any seriously ill people, that she knew of.
That put her at low risk.
Spencer: Are they testing her to see if she has Ebola and if so, when are results expected?
Kristian: Yes they are testing her for Ebola and other diseases like malaria.
But he didn’t give us any solid time as to when we might know the outcome.
Spencer: Who was she staying with, and what is happening to the people she may have come in contact with?
Kristian: Well the county and the state are being pretty close lipped about who she stayed with. HIPPA laws prevent them from releasing information that might identify this woman without her consent.
But what we do know is that the family she was living with has offered to voluntarily quarantine itself at home - at least until we know what this patient is suffering from.
Spencer: Why was Providence Milwaukie chosen and how prepared are they for this type of case?
Kristian: Six health systems around Portland say they’re ready to take any Ebola patient. David Underriner with Providence Health Services said they were staffed and ready.
Spencer: How is she being isolated at the hospital?
Kristian: Well Underriner didn’t go into much detail. He just said that she is not being held in the Emergency Room.
But he said she’s being treated by people wearing full body protection and they’re making sure there’s no cross contamination when they take off their suits.
Spencer: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined the risk factors for contracting Ebola, and how it spreads. What do they say about the disease?
Kristian: Well, because Ebola cannot spread through the air, you have to have direct contact with someone who has the virus, in order to contract it.
The CDC says infections occur when broken skin or mucous membranes contact blood or other bodily fluids that contain the Ebola virus.
It is also possible for the virus to spread through objects like infected needles or syringes, infected clothing, bedding or medical equipment.
Spencer: Thanks, Kristian. We’ll continue following this story. You can find out more about what the CDC has to say about Ebola at our website, opbnews.org.