KU Hospital testing patient with ‘low to moderate’ risk of Ebola virus

Kansas University Hospital confirmed Monday that it is testing a patient for the Ebola virus.

KU Hospital reported that a man called and then came into the hospital around 6 a.m. Monday with a high fever, nausea and other serious symptoms. Because the patient had worked on a medical boat off the west coast of Africa as recently as Wednesday, he was immediately isolated on a special infectious disease unit and is undergoing tests.

Hospital staff met the patient wearing personal protection equipment and followed the hospital’s plan for this kind of illness, Dr. Lee Norman, chief medical officer of KU Hospital, said at a news conference Monday evening.

“The patient was whisked back to his room in accordance with our infection control practices,” Norman said. “His condition is undetermined, but it was worrisome enough to put proper safeguards in place.”

Tests are underway to determine a diagnosis. While the hospital cannot rule out Ebola at this time, Norman said the patient is at low to moderate risk of Ebola.

“The initial lab results show his blood is testing normally,” Norman said. “There is no evidence of any hemorrhaging.”

Ebola can cause hemorrhagic fever and can cause affected people to bleed internally and externally, Norman said, so the man’s preliminary test results were “encouraging.”

Norman said the man has “done well” and, if infected, the man would seem to be “fairly early on” in the disease.

The KU Hospital hopes to confirm with test results whether the man has the virus by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

While Norman also notes there are many other diseases that fit the patient’s symptoms, the hospital nevertheless is following guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control.

Care is being provided by a team of nurses and other health professionals who will not treat other patients during this period until diagnosis and treatment plans are completed.

The hospital is in close contact with federal, state and local health officials.

Regardless of the diagnosis, the patient is in an isolated area of the hospital and does not pose a health risk to other patients, staff or visitors in the hospital, the hospital said. The area has its own ventilation system. All bedding and medical waste are being isolated from the regular hospital material under federal CDC and state transportation guidelines.

No other information on the patient is available due to federal privacy laws.