Patient 'unlikely' to have Ebola virus, Primary Children's Hospital says

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SALT LAKE CITY — A patient with symptoms that "raised some concern for Ebola" was admitted into Primary Children's Hospital, officials announced Thursday.

The patient had recently traveled to a country in Africa where transmission of the Ebola virus has not yet been reported, according to Primary Children's Hospital's chief of pediatric infectious diseases, Dr. Andrew Pavia. He said the patient was admitted Wednesday.

"While we have determined it is unlikely that the patient has Ebola virus, Primary Children's has taken this opportunity to use the emergency plan that we have been working on for the past few months in order to provide the maximum protection to staff, patients, families, and the greater community in the event we do have a patient with an Ebola infection in the future," a statement from Primary Children's Hospital reads.

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Pavia said the possibility the patient had the Ebola virus was "extremely remote," but that the hospital wanted to test its system. An alternative diagnosis became evident while doctors worked with the patient, he said. Pavia was unable to disclose the diagnosis.

If a patient with Ebola were to be admitted to the hospital, Pavia said they would not pose a risk to others in the community or at the hospital because the virus is not transmitted by casual contact. After the test, he said the hospital is confident they could safely treat a patient with the virus.

"It was a test of our system and it worked — we always learn things in a setting like this, but it really increased our confidence that we could handle this type of situation," he said.

Pavia said the hospital decided to disclose the details of the incident because it was aware rumors of the virus coming to the area had been circulating and they "wanted to make it clear it was not a potential case."

A sample of the specimen was sent to the Centers for Disease Control for evaluation as part of the hospital's test.

A man with Ebola is currently being treated in a Dallas hospital after he left Liberia on Sept. 19 and became sick four or five days later. A CDC team is monitoring several people who came in contact with the man during the time transmission was possible.

The situation there, however, is much more extreme than what is taking place at Primary Children's Hospital, according to Dr. Robert Rolfs, deputy director of the Utah Department of Health.

"The Dallas case is different in that that individual does have Ebola," Rolfs said. "We do not believe that there is a realistic possibility that this is Ebola."

"I don't think people should be worried about Ebola in the United States. They should worry about the thousands of people in Africa who are suffering," Pavia said. "If they want to do something about Ebola, they should probably think about donating to the agencies that are taking care of people suffering through a horrible epidemic."

Contributing: Morgan Jacobsen and Sam Penrod

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