A Massachusetts General Hospital patient has initially tested negative for Ebola, but will remain in the care of medical personnel over the next few days.
During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Dr. David Hooper, chief of the MGH Infection Control Unit, said initial tests for Ebola were negative, but did test positive for Malaria. While the patient will be retested over the next few days, the changes of a positive result were low.
“We still think it’s unlikely for this patient, but by three days or so, virtually all Ebola patients should test negative,’’ he said.
The patient, who had been in Liberia in “an administrative role,’’ was never in direct contact with Ebola patients in the West African country, according to Cooper. When he returned to the US, he was checked by public health officials for indications of the illness. Clear of any symptoms, he went home and was monitored by the Boston Public Health Commission.
Passengers on the same flight as the patient and people who interacted with the patient in the airport are in no danger of infection, said Cooper.
“There’s no risk from this case to the public,’’ he said.
The patient was admitted to the hospital Tuesday afternoon and was tested for Ebola after meeting the CDC definition of a “person under investigation’’ for the infection, according to MGH Director of Emergency Preparedness Dr. Paul Biddinger.
“This definition involves the possibility of travel to where Ebola is present, the possibility of exposure to that virus, and symptoms that are consistent with that virus,’’ Biddinger said at a press conference Tuesday evening.
MGH has been planning for months to handle the possibility of a suspected Ebola case, undergoing training exercises to simulate the evaluation and management process, said Biddinger.
MGH has also been involved in testing devices that would allow them to treat Ebola cases remotely. In a recent demonstration at the Cambridge lab, researchers were able to manipulate the rate at which a ventilator provided air, slowing and speeding the breaths taken by a dummy patient.