Santa Fe patient released from isolation after Ebola scare

Christus Saint Vincent Regional Medical Center Ebola Scare

SANTA FE (KRQE) – There was a brief Ebola scare on Monday at a New Mexico hospital.

A patient was rushed to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center on Monday afternoon with symptoms similar to those of the deadly virus.

Hospital officials said the unnamed patient was placed into isolation as a safety precaution even though the patient did not meet the criteria for Ebola testing, according to the Department of Health. Health officials said that’s because of the person’s travel history.

KRQE News 13 asked Christus St. Vincent why they put a patient into quarantine if they would never be tested for Ebola. Minutes later, that person was released from isolation.

Hospital spokespeople will not say why the patient was isolated. They also have not said whether the patient was still hospitalized, citing patient confidentiality.

The hospital released the following statement:

“CHRISTUS St. Vincent was notified by EMS of a potential Ebola patient en route. The hospital immediately activated our Infectious Disease Protocol, and contacted the Department of Health. Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, the Department of Health informed us the patient did not meet the criteria for Ebola testing. However, the patient has been placed in isolation as a precaution, per procedure.”


When is Ebola Contagious?

Only when someone is showing symptoms, which can start with vague symptoms including a fever, flu-like body aches and abdominal pain, and then vomiting and diarrhea.

How Does Ebola Spread?

Through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen. Those fluids must have an entry point, like a cut or scrape or someone touching the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands, or being splashed. That’s why health care workers wear protective gloves and other equipment.

The World Health Organization says blood, feces and vomit are the most infectious fluids, while the virus is found in saliva mostly once patients are severely ill and the whole live virus has never been culled from sweat.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said Sunday that a health-care worker who provided hospital care for the first patient to die from Ebola in the United States has tested positive for the virus. The worker, who was not identified, was wearing full protective gear while attending to the patient during his second visit to the hospital, according to a hospital official. If the diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of Ebola being transmitted in the U.S.

What About More Casual Contact?

Ebola isn’t airborne. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said people don’t get exposed by sitting next to someone on the bus.

“This is not like flu. It’s not like measles, not like the common cold. It’s not as spreadable, it’s not as infectious as those conditions,” he added.

Who Gets Tested When Ebola is Suspected?

Hospitals with a suspected case call their health department or the CDC to go through a checklist to determine the person’s level of risk. Among the questions are whether the person reports a risky contact with a known Ebola patient, how sick they are and whether an alternative diagnosis is more likely. Most initially suspicious cases in the U.S. haven’t met the criteria for testing.

How is it Cleaned Up?

The CDC says bleach and other hospital disinfectants kill Ebola. Dried virus on surfaces survives only for several hours.

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