A patient admitted to a Honolulu hospital was isolated because of the possibility that the person may have contracted the Ebola virus, a state Department of Health official confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo declined to provide details about the identity of the person or the hospital, citing federal privacy laws, but the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned that the patient is male, and at the Queen’s Medical Center.
Okubo cautioned against panic or alarm.
She said it is her understanding that the hospital was following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for individuals who may have traveled to the West Africa region in the last 21 days and experienced certain symptoms.
The patient’s evaluation is in the preliminary stages, Okubo said late Wednesday afternoon, noting that an Ebola lab test has not been administered.
Ebola symptoms include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain or unexplained hemorrhaging. Symptoms may appear from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is eight to 10 days, according to the CDC web site.
The CDC has received 94 inquiries from states about illnesses that initially were suspected to be Ebola, the Associated Press reported. But after taking travel histories and doing some other work, most were ruled out. Of the 13 people who actually underwent testing, only one — in Dallas — test positive.
On Wednesday, the first Ebola patient to develop symptoms in the United States was identified as Thomas Eric Duncan, who is being treated in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Duncan told hospital officials on Friday that he had just arrived from West Africa, but he was sent home under the mistaken belief that he had only a mild fever, a hospital administrator said.
Hospitals officials acknowledged Wednesday Duncan was not admitted that day because the information on his recent travel to Liberia, one of the nations at the heart of the Ebola epidemic, was not passed along at the hospital.
He returned to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday and was admitted for treatment, but in those two days in between, his contacts with a number of people — including five schoolchildren and the medics who helped transport him to the hospital — potentially exposed them to Ebola, forcing officials to monitor and isolate them in their homes and to begin a thorough cleaning of the schools the students attend. Duncan is now in serious but stable condition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.