Child being tested for Ebola at NYC hospital

Posted: 9:44 AM, Oct 27, 2014
Updated: 2014-10-27 17:44:21-04

NEW YORK (PIX11) -- A child is being tested for Ebola at a New York City hospital, health officials said Monday.

Preliminary results of those tests are expected in the next 12 hours.

The patient, who was not named by the Health and Hospitals Corporation but identified in media reports as a 5-year-old boy, was taken by a HAZ TAC team wearing protective gear Sunday night to Bellevue Hospital after developing a fever upon returning to the U.S. from one of three West African nations with an Ebola epidemic.

It was not immediately known which country the child visited or when they came back to the U.S.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference that the child returned to the U.S. "very, very recently." The patient's mother took that trip, as well, and has shown no symptoms, a "very encouraging sign," de Blasio said.

While the child initially reported having a fever, no fever was detected when doctors at Bellevue first examined the patient.

But the child again developed a fever as recently as 7 a.m. Monday.

Because of the child's travel history and symptoms (early signs of Ebola are marked by a fever and gastrointestinal issues), the hospital, CDC and city's health department thought it prudent to test for Ebola, the hospital said.

They are also testing for other, more common causes of illness to determine why the patient is sick.

de Blasio said first responders followed policy when they brought the child to the hospital Sunday night.

"Everything has been handled, again, according to protocol," de Blasio said. "We hope to have positive news but if we don't, we know everything has been handled right."

A team of so-called disease detectives has started to trace the child’s contacts and identify anyone who may be at potential risk in case of a positive test result, the health department said.

Elsewhere at Bellevue Hospital, one of eight hospitals in the state designated to handle Ebola cases, a  33-year-old physician who treated Ebola patients in West Africa as part of a humanitarian mission with Doctors Without Border continued to battle the often-deadly illness.

Dr. Craig Spencer was in serious but stable condition as of Monday.

His fiancee, who had been quarantined at Bellevue immediately after Spencer's diagnosis but has since been discharged to a home quarantine, was symptom-free as of Monday, de Blasio said.

As New York City handles its first case of the virus, city leaders and health officials have reiterated their calls for calm, saying it is “extremely rare” for the average New Yorker to contract Ebola.

While it is extremely infectious, Ebola is not extremely contagious. The illness is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has Ebola.

There is no vaccine and no known cure for Ebola. Patients suffering from the illness undergo so-called supportive treatment, meaning that doctors treat the symptoms -- among them fever, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting -- as they come so the patient’s own immune system can fight off the virus.