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Toronto patient being tested for Ebola

From O Canada (source link):  An anonymous patient in Toronto is being tested for Ebola after a media leak late Thursday forced the hospital to go public with the news.

Officials say it’s very unlikely the patient actually has the deadly virus. He or she has a fever and a recent travel history from West Africa, where the hemorrhagic fever has killed more than 3,000 people in recent months as the outbreak continues unchecked.

A Washington, D.C., hospital is also monitoring a possible Ebola case but only out of “an abundance of caution,” officials said Friday. And a freelance NBC cameraman contracted the disease in Africa and will be flown back to the U.S. for treatment.

And the family of a Texas man diagnosed earlier this week with Ebola — the first case diagnosed on North American soil — are now being kept at home under armed guard, after defying orders to stay inside for three weeks.

The patient in Toronto is only being tested as a precaution, according to Gillian Howard, vice-president of public affairs with the University Health Network in Toronto. The unnamed man or woman is being held in quarantine at one of its four locations in downtown Toronto.

The patient is in isolation and the health workers involved are using protective gear until the test results have returned, Howard said.

The hospital is stressing the unlikelihood that the patient actually has Ebola, especially because its initial symptoms are flu-like and the ailment could be a more common and far less dangerous virus.

The Texas man’s diagnosis and his families refusal to comply with quarantine have increased concern that the virus has spread to North America. Officials now say they’re closing monitoring 10 people and keeping an eye on 50 in the southern state to ensure the virus is contained. But despite its spread in West Africa, the disease is actually fairly hard to contract and doesn’t spread through the air like a common cold. Instead, one must come in contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is already very ill and not just carrying the virus.

The former wife of the Ebola victim is contained to a small apartment with her 13-year-old son and two nephews because of her ex’s diagnosis. Louise Troh expressed chaffed at the quarantine and wants authorities to decontaminate her home.

“Who wants to be locked up?” she said Thursday. Access to the 300-unit apartment complex is being monitored by police and private security.

The confinement order, which also bans visitors, was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request to stay home, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

A German doctor from Uganda contracted the virus recently as well while working in Sierra Leone.

Cultural differences and health care practices on this continent mean an outbreak is much less likely to spread as quickly here, if at all, Health Canada officials said earlier this week.

There have been several people tested in Canada for Ebola in the past several weeks, but none have had the virus. The Toronto suburb of Brampton prompted one of the earliest scares when in August there were fears a patient there had contracted the virus, but those tests were negative.

The tests on the Toronto patient must be sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.

— with files from the Canadian Press and Associated Press

Royce Christyn
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