Officials at two Washington, D.C.-area hospitals said Friday they had isolated patients over fears of Ebola after the nation's first case of the deadly virus was confirmed in Dallas this week.
But officials at one of the hospitals, Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, determined late Friday that their patient had malaria, not Ebola, hospital officials said in a statement late Friday.
Howard University Hospital quarantined a patient who had recently traveled to Nigeria out of "an abundance of caution," officials said. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital patient had also arrived with suspicious symptoms and travel history.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines urge hospitals to isolate any patients with flu-like symptoms and recent travel to West Africa because of suspicions of Ebola, and to use other infection control measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Howard University spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton said the patient there was in stable condition, but declined to provide other details citing patient privacy concerns.
Shady Grove officials said lab results indicated the was showing signs of improvement from malaria.
"We realize that this situation may be unsettling for employees, their families and others in our community," they said in a statement. "In the case of this patient, we took and continue to take recommended precautions."
Health providers are on heightened alert for warning signs of the hemorrhagic fever the virus causes – symptoms including fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and recent travel to West Africa – after a Liberian man was turned away on his first visit to a Dallas hospital. He exposed up to 100 people to the virus over the next few days before being admitted and confirmed as the first Ebola case in the United States.
In Maryland, health officials said Thursday they are monitoring for Ebola and ensuring doctors and nurses in all types of health care settings are aware of what to look for and what to do if they suspect a patient might have Ebola.
Since an outbreak of Ebola began in West Africa last December, there have been as many as 100 scares in the U.S. in which health officials have consulted with the CDC over possible Ebola cases, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Thursday. But only 15 of those instances raised alarm to the level that blood tests for the virus were performed, he said.
Howard officials would not say Friday if a blood test will be conducted on the patient in isolation.
No Ebola blood tests have been performed in Maryland, Dr. David Blythe, state epidemiologist, said Thursday. There have been at least two cases of patients being isolated at Baltimore-area hospitals because of Ebola concerns, but in both instances the virus was quickly ruled out.
Maryland is one of 13 states capable of testing for Ebola, in tandem with the CDC and with its authorization.
In Nigeria, there have been 20 cases of Ebola, eight of them fatal. There have been more than 3,300 deaths and 7,000 cases of Ebola in all of West Africa.