Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- A Northern California hospital said it is treating a patient who may have been exposed to Ebola as the worst outbreak of the deadly virus on record continues to spread across Africa.
Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center said in a statement it had sent blood samples from the patient to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to rule out the presence of the virus. The hospital didn’t provide details on the patient or how the person may have been exposed.
The outbreak, the worst since the virus was first identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, has sickened 2,240 people, killing at least 1,229 through Aug. 16, in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and, most recently, Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.
There is no known or approved cure for Ebola, which typically kills 90 percent of its victims after causing bleeding from the eyes, ears, mouth and rectum and a bloody full-body rash. It is spread through bodily fluids.
Fear that the virus might appear in the U.S. grew after two American aid workers who were treating victims in Africa contracted the disease and were evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both workers are recovering.
Health-care workers attending to suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola need to wear protective clothing including goggles, rubber boots, gloves and gowns to ensure no part of their skin is exposed.
Stephen M. Parodi, director of hospital operations at the Sacramento hospital, said the facility is taking precautions recommended by the CDC to prevent spreading the virus.
“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,” Parodi said in the statement. “This enables the medical center to provide care in a setting that safeguards other patients and medical teams.”
Mount Sinai Hospital in New York said a male patient who arrived at the Emergency room with Ebola like symptoms earlier this month after traveling to West Africa tested negative for virus.