Update Jan. 30: The patient has tested negative for Ebola, a rep for UC Davis Medical Center confirmed to the Huffington Post.
Previous story: A patient with possible Ebola symptoms is being cared for at UC Davis Medical Center in Davis, California, according to a statement from the hospital.
The patient was transferred to University of California-Davis from Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento Thursday morning. While Mercy General has resumed almost normal functioning, officials have closed their emergency room in order to do a deep clean, and plan to re-open the facility later Thursday, reports FOX40. UC Davis Medical Center is also open and operating as normal.
A spokeswoman for UC Davis Medical center told Reuters that the patient was being tested for Ebola, but she didn't know if the patient had recently traveled to West Africa. The potential case is confirmation of public health authorities' warnings that the Ebola threat, while declining, is not over. There were only 99 new cases of Ebola in West Africa in the week ending Jan. 25, a sign that the tide may be turning on an outbreak that has infected an estimated 22,092 people and killed 8,810 since Dec. 2013, when the epidemic began.
Ebola was first diagnosed in the U.S. in Sept. 2014, when Liberian man Eric Thomas Duncan was taken via ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas. Duncan died of the disease, but two nurses who contracted the virus from him survived. Since their cases, a few more Ebola scares have cropped up, including in the Denver area and Bethesda, and a lab worker at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was accidentally exposed to the virus but did not end up contracting the disease.
UC Davis Medical Center was among the first group of hospitals identified by the federal government as qualified to receive and care for patients with Ebola and other infectious diseases last December.
Dr. Stuart Cohen, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of Hospital Infection Control at the UC Davis Health System, told HuffPost in a previous interview that the hospital was well-prepared to receive an Ebola patient, or a patient with any other rare or exotic infection. Cohen had led the charge to prepare the hospital for a possible Ebola case, just as he did when the hospital prepared for anthrax poisoning, SARS and influenza in the past. At the time HuffPost interviewed him, it was unclear whether UC Davis would receive a potential Ebola case, but Cohen believed the preparation would pay off in the long run.
“People are making infrastructure changes and really getting focused on what’s necessary to manage complicated patients,” said Cohen to HuffPost last December. “I do think there will be [disease outbreaks] after this, so that preparation won’t be a one-time wonder.”