Alabama patient tested for Ebola had been to Kenya and has malaria


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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Twelve patients in Alabama have gone through initial evaluations for possible Ebola infection but only one has met the criteria for testing and turned out to have malaria, State Health Officer Don Williamson (pictured left) said this morning.

Williamson gave an update on Ebola and other communicable diseases at a State Committee of Public Health meeting.

Kelly Stevens, director of the Division of Epidemiology at the Alabama Department of Public Health, said the patient who was tested had not been to West Africa, but had been to Kenya.

Stevens said the patient had spent time in the bush there and might have been exposed to bats.

But tests ruled out any strain of Ebola, she said.

Williamson said the 12 patients have been evaluated because of flu-like symptoms and recent travel history.

“What we’re commonly seeing are people who come in with nausea, vomiting, fever, flu-like symptoms, and they’ve come from out of the country,” Williamson said. “Fortunately, so far, we’re not seeing them coming from west Africa.”

If Alabama does get an Ebola case, it is likely to happen the same way as the first case in Dallas, where Thomas Eric Duncan was eventually diagnosed after coming from Liberia, Williamson said.

Williamson said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might have to modify its guidelines for preventing infection after a second nurse who treated Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola. That nurse took commercial flights to Ohio and returned to Dallas before diagnosis.

“That’s a point of ongoing concern,” Williamson said.

Gov. Robert Bentley reaffirmed Tuesday his earlier statements that Alabama hospitals are prepared for Ebola.

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