A woman who is experiencing symptoms of Ebola is in quarantine at UNM Hospital in Albuquerque.
On August 4, the woman returned from a visit to Sierra Leone, a West African country that has been hit particularly hard by the current Ebola outbreak. So far, 810 cases and 348 deaths have been reported there.
Last Friday, the 30-year-old woman began to develop flu-like symptoms including fever, sore throat, muscle aches, and a headache.
On Saturday, she checked herself into the hospital.
The woman is being held in a special room that has negative pressure to keep everything inside the room. The room itself is in protective gear and doctors and nurses have been instructed to wear protective gear when taking care of the woman, reports KOAT.
At least 170 healthcare workers have been infected with Ebola so far, but all of them have been in the West African countries that are being affected by the outbreak. Conditions for healthcare workers in those countries present challenges that US medical facilities do not face, such as extreme heat, long hours, under-staffing, and lack of adequate equipment.
The New Mexico Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to perform tests to (hopefully) rule out the deadly virus. Blood samples will be sent to the CDC in Atlanta.
Health officials say they don’t believe the woman has Ebola, but they are taking extreme caution just in case:
“Because she does have some of these generalized signs and symptoms, we want to be unduly cautious,” said New Mexico Department of Health deputy epidemiologist Joan Baumbach. “I honestly believe that the public is not at risk — that we’re taking every precaution necessary and anything we learn of any concern to the public, we will be relaying immediately.”
CDC and state health officials say the patient’s symptoms do not rise to what would be considered a “probable” case of the virus — but some of Ebola’s most basic symptoms are there.
“She’s absolutely being managed as if she might,” said Baumbach.
Baumbach says the woman does not believe she was in contact with anyone who has the virus — and transmission is difficult.
“People really need to have those bodily fluids enter their own bodies directly, through touching it or by other means of very direct contact,” she said.
Officials said the woman’s preliminary test results should be back by the end of this week.
Last week, a NY man who was quarantined after developing symptoms associated with Ebola shared his experience with the public. Fortunately, tests were negative and he was released from the hospital.
Meanwhile, tests for Ebola are being conducted on the body of a 48-year-old British woman who died in Austria on Saturday after returning from a trip to Nigeria. And, the body of a Nigerian woman who flew to Abu Dhabi and died in the city is also being tested for the virus. That woman, a 35-year-old who had advanced metastatic cancer, became ill while in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport. When medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a possible Ebola virus infection.