By Richard Weizel
NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct 16 (Reuters) - A Connecticut hospital is testing a Yale University student with Ebola-like symptoms who traveled to Liberia last month and a preliminary diagnosis could come in as little as two hours, Governor Dannel Malloy said on Thursday.
The patient is one of two Yale University graduate epidemiology students who traveled to Liberia last month to advise the health ministry on using computers to track Ebola, according to Laurence Grotheer, a spokesman for New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.
Mayor Harp told a press conference that it was doubtful the patient has Ebola, noting that flu season has started.
Yale University said the students had not traveled into areas in Liberia where Ebola was present. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the West African countries hardest hit by the worst Ebola outbreak on record that has killed nearly 4,500 people. Ebola is transmitted by bodily fluids and is not airborne.
"We have not confirmed or ruled out any diagnosis at this point," the Yale-New Haven Hospital where the student was admitted said in a statement.
The patient was in stable condition in isolation with a fever, Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the hospital's chief medical officer, said at a press conference.
Governor Malloy said a lab in Boston would have preliminary test results on the patient as early as 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) and if it is negative, Ebola would be ruled out. If it is positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta would conduct further testing.
A final determination from the CDC could come by 11 a.m. on Friday, Malloy said.
The governor also enacted quarantine and isolation protocols to be used with anyone who is reasonably believed to have been exposed to or infected with the Ebola virus. He directed every hospital in Connecticut to perform an Ebola readiness drill with its teams and Emergency Medical Services crews within a week.
Yale initially asked the two students to quarantine themselves for 21 days but last week rescinded that request, according to the university.
"They have reported that they were not in contact with Ebola patients or caregivers in Liberia, that they carefully followed recommended travel and hygiene precautions during their stay in the country and that they have continued to do so since their return," Yale University President Peter Salovey said in a statement. (Additional reporting by Scott Malone in Boston and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Susan Heavey, Grant McCool and Lisa Shumaker)