Kelowna patient tests negative for Ebola

A healthcare worker was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital Sunday to undergo Ebola testing, with initial tests coming back negative.

A healthcare worker that recently returned from Sierra Leone was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital Sunday to undergo Ebola testing after coming down with influenza-like symptoms.

Initial tests have now come back negative for Ebola, Interior Health Authority officials said in a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

On Sunday the patient came down with an illness within 21-day from returning from West Africa. During that possible ebola incubation period, the patient must stay within two hours of a facility that can test and treat Ebola patients. In this case, that’s Kelowna General Hospital.

“The patient began to experience mild-influenza like illness and reported these symptoms to the medical health officer as these symptoms were developed,” explained Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Medical Health Officer, on Tuesday, Dec. 30, conference call.

Dr. Henry noted that the patient was being treated in an isolation room away from patients and staff.

“This afternoon (Tuesday) we received early testing back from the B.C. Centre for Disease control, and as we expected given the symptoms this person had that test is negative for Ebola.”

Dr. Henry said that, given the travel and work history of the patient, they are following all procedures to make sure the person is free from Ebola.

“Additional testing will need to take place over the next day or two to confirm results of this early testing and the patient will remain in isolation in hospital during that time,” Dr. Henry said. “The risk to the public remains extremely low.”

She said that health care workers at Kelowna General Hospital have been trained on Ebola protocol and procedures and the facility is fully prepared to manage the patient.

She said there are a number of medical workers that are currently being monitored after returning from countries with Ebola outbreaks, so there is potential that something like this could happen again.

Dr. Mike Ertel, Chief of Staff at Kelowna General Hospital read a statement on behalf of the patient. The patient wrote:

“While I’m feeling like I just have cold symptoms, I completely understand and respect the meticulous attention to ebola management protocols concerning my recent work in Sierra Leone. My biggest concern is that the publicity given to my situation here in B.C. right now might deflect some of the attention from the real issue which is the plight of the people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.”

The patient said they wanted to reassure their family and the public that they are receiving the best care in a fashion that fully protects the public. The patient said they want to keep the focus back on West Africa.