LAX Traveler Being Tested For Ebola

LAX Traveler Being Tested For Ebola
People crossing from Ivory Coast to Liberia via DFID UK/Flickr

Updated at the bottom with the L.A. County health chief saying this "is not a suspected case" of Ebola.

A sick man who had recently been in the West African nation of Liberia was taken from LAX to Centinela Hospital Medical Center via ambulance last night to be tested for Ebola as a precaution, hospital officials said. The results were still pending, according to a statement from Centinela.

The facility stated that the patient showed no signs of Ebola, but that, "due to travel history appropriate precautions were implemented."

See also: How Not to Get Ebola

Hospital spokesman Steve Brand told us "he was sick"—that "we had somebody come who potentially had Ebola who is currently being tested." However:

The patient's specific symptoms did not match those associated with Ebola, he said. "The patient does not have any symptoms of Ebola," the Inglewood hospital stated.

It wasn't clear how long the patient would have to be quarantined in the meantime, Brand said. Centinela says it was prepared:

Ambulance personnel alerted the hospital prior to arrival so upon entry to the hospital campus, all CDC precautions were fully implemented. The hospital has been preparing for the possibility of this situation for weeks and staff has been trained per CDC protocols.

"Our ER team did a precise and thorough job of implementing our full protocol," Centinela CEO Linda Bradley said. "They acted quickly and decisively in determining the status of the patient and contacted all necessary authorities."

The hospital said patients, family and staff would remain safe and that the facility remained fully open.

An LAX spokesman said that the airport does not have any direct flights from West Africa, including Liberia, and that the patient might have gotten there via a connecting flight.

L.A. County Department of Public Health spokeswoman Sarah Kissell Garrett said she could not confirm an un-sourced report that eight people have been tested for Ebola in L.A. county since the African outbreak began in December, even though her department would be the one to know.

In fact she had no information for the public and said readers would have to wait until a 3:30 p.m. press conference or statement release to get questions answered.

Brand said that it was county health officials who would decide how long the patient at Centinela would have to remain in quarantine.

[Updated at 4:28 p.m.]: L.A. County interim health chief Jeffrey Gunzenhauser told reporters today that this is "not a suspected case."

While the patient met two criteria—being sick, and having been in West Africa—he said the evidence doesn't make the case rise to the level of suspected Ebola. 

He said LAX staffers noticed the person was sick and called paramedics, which he said was an appropriate response. "We learned about it about or after midnight," Gunzenhauser said.

"There was some kind of symptoms that were occurring that concerned the airport staff," he said.

When pushed, he said that "There may have been other symptoms that the patient had, and I can't disclose what they were."

Gunzenhauser anticipated the patient could be cleared "within 24 hours."

He acknowledged that 7 other L.A. county patients had been tested for Ebola.

The Centinela patient was so removed from possible Ebola, however, that Gunzenhauser said, "I can't even confirm that there's a test for Ebola" being conducted.

Luckily the hospital is giving us information that public officials won't.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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