A 30-year-old woman in New Mexico is being tested for the Ebola virus, health officials announced Sunday.
The unidentified woman was teaching in Sierra Leone, and returned to Albuquerque on Aug. 4. She began exhibiting symptoms of infection on Aug. 15, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea have been ravaged by the deadly Ebola virus since February. Over 1,000 people have died from the disease, and over 2,000 have been infected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ebola virus disease, or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, typically causes fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, joint pain, and other symptoms. The disease is transmitted by coming into contact with the bodily fluid of an infected person, or touching objects such as needles that have come into contact with infected bodily fluid.
Although the woman had no known exposure to the virus, she has exhibited Ebola symptoms—fever, headache, muscle aches, and a sore throat. A blood sample was sent to the CDC in Atlanta for testing, and results are expected this week. The patient is currently in stable condition at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH).
The CDC recommends proper sterilisation of medical equipment, and wearing protective clothing to decrease the chances of infection. UNMH epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Brett said that the hospital staff are taking all necessary precautions to decrease the risk of transmission, and echoed a Health Department official's statement that treatment of the patient is being completed "out of an abundance of caution".
"Returning from overseas with a fever could be a lot of things," Dr. Brett told the Albuquerque Journal. "It could be routine."
There are currently two cases of Ebola infection in the United States. Humanitarian workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol contracted the virus in Liberia last month and were medically evacuated back to the U.S. They are receiving treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.