Early Ebola tests on patient in Canada negative
HAMILTON, Ontario (CNN) -- Health officials in Canada said Wednesday preliminary tests on a woman feared to have the Ebola virus have been negative for the deadly hemorrhagic fever.
However, they said viral isolation tests are still being conducted and they have not yet been able to rule out other viruses, such as Lassa or yellow fever, as the cause of her illness.
"We're being extremely cautious," said Dr. Mark Loeb of Henderson Hospital, where the woman is being treated. But he emphasized the general public is not at risk.
"We've had some results from the laboratory in Winnipeg, showing that the Ebola testing is negative," explained Loeb. "The real implication (is) that this greatly reduces the likelihood that this patient has been infected with the Ebola virus."
Blood tests were being conducted by a laboratory in Winnipeg and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
Health Canada, the nation's health department, said the woman has been diagnosed with a very low-grade malaria, but they are awaiting blood tests to determine if her illness is more severe.
The unidentified woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo was said to be slightly better.
"She is still seriously ill but there are some indications she is improving," one doctor said.
Viral hemorrhagic fevers are spread through human excretions such as blood, semen, saliva and mucus, and are not as contagious as airborne illnesses.
The woman flew from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the New York area and on to Toronto, where she arrived Saturday. Officials said she showed no symptoms on the flight.
Officials said two people in the community outside the hospital have had close contact with the woman and officials have told them they are at possible risk.
In addition, about 16 hospital staffers had "close contact" with the woman before she was moved to the isolation room.
Medical personnel wear masks, gowns, gloves and even carry shields when treating the woman to limit possible exposure to her illness.
"We're doing our utmost to continue to protect staff," Loeb said.
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