Patient With Suspected Deadly Ebola Virus Being Treated at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
Massachusetts General Hospital is treating a patient suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus, Public Affairs Officer Noah Brown has confirmed to Boston.com.
Dr. Paul Biddinger, Director Of Emergency Preparedness at MGH, said the patient involved in the suspected Ebola case meets the CDC definition of a “person under investigation” to possibly have the Ebola virus.
“This definition involves the possibility of travel to where Ebola is present, the possibility of exposure to that virus, and symptoms that are consistent with that virus,” Biddinger said at a press conference Tuesday evening.
The patient is in stable condition and good spirits, according to Biddinger. He declined to answer specific questions about the patient—including travel history, potential exposure to others, and location in the hospital—citing an inability to comment on individual patient details. Biddiger did say, though, that there is not a reason for panic.
“We feel extremely confident that all of our patients, all of our staff, all of our visitors are completely safe,” he said.
Biddinger did not give an exact timetable for results, but said a diagnosis with a definitive yes or no could take several days. Preliminary tests results will come back in a staggered fashion—some as early as tomorrow—but multiple tests might be needed before the official diagnosis.
Boston Public Health Commission spokesperson McKenzie Ridings said the commission does not comment on suspected cases of any illness. The organization did release a statement later Tuesday night:
It is the policy of the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission not to comment on suspect cases. For months, BPHC has conducted extensive trainings, public awareness campaigns, and coordination with our partners at the state level and surrounding municipalities. We have full confidence in our departments and healthcare organizations that we can keep Boston residents and visitors safe and healthy.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Steven Hatch, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UMass Medical School, recently spent six weeks in Liberia treating Ebola patients. The Boston physician is an infectious disease specialist.
“All the other patients at Mass General are going to be fine. I’m sure by now all the major hospitals in Massachusetts, as part of a coordinated effort, have their act together.”
Despite having spent time surrounded by confirmed Ebola cases in a Liberian clinic, Hatch said he never feared contracting the disease.
“I never feared what would happen to me while I was over there. Not because I didn’t think something bad might happen. I understood I was putting my life on the line the same way I think a soldier does going into battle. Fear is not going to help you make good decisions.”
MGH sent a message to all of its current inpatients and staff summarizing the same details shared during the press conference. While an exact location of the patient was not given, Biddinger said that the hospital is using a dedicated isolation area with a special team of nurses, physicians, and infection control staff.
MGH has been planning for months to handle the possibility of a suspected Ebola case, undergoing training exercises to simulate the evaluation and management process.
MGH has also been involved in testing devices that would allow them to treat Ebola cases remotely. In a recent demonstration at the Cambridge lab, researchers were able to manipulate the rate at which a ventilator provided air, slowing and speeding the breaths taken by a dummy patient.