‘It’s not an Ebola case’

2014-10-31 00:00

IS there an Ebola case in Durban or isn’t there?

No, according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), but they are testing a patient who “would not be considered as a suspected Ebola case … to allay patient and health worker fears”.

This follows reports of a man admitted to Addington Hospital on Wednesday with the deadly disease.

On Wednesday night Lucille Blumberg, NICD head of public health, surveillance, and response, told The Witness that they did not suspect a case of Ebola and that no one had been admitted to Addington Hospital.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday Blumberg said a man, a car fleet manager who had been working in Sierra Leone, and who “was a little anxious and felt unwell” contacted a Durban health facility but that “he did not fit the case definition”.

“Many people are fearful unnecessarily,” said Blumberg. “But you can eliminate Ebola quite quickly. You can only get it if you have been exposed to the blood, vomit or faeces of someone suffering from it, which is why people who get it are health workers or family members.”

Because the story had spread on social media the NICD, the only institution with a laboratory able to test for Ebola, issued a statement that the man “was never admitted or tested at Addington hospital for Ebola”.

However, Hospersa spokesperson Michelle Connolly said the union’s members at Addington Hospital maintained “the patient presented with the full range of Ebola symptoms and tested positive for the virus before fleeing the hospital premises”.

Connolly later disputed the NICD’s “version of events” and accused Addington Hospital of being “glaringly irresponsible”.

Yesterday, according to the NICD, the man was admitted to Addington Hospital “to check specifically for other infections including malaria, given the absence of risk factors and no direct exposure to persons with Ebola disease”.

“The Ebola test results for this patient will be available within the next 48 hours.”

• Stephen.Coan@witness.co.za

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