Northampton General Tests Woman For Ebola

Northampton General Hospital is treating a woman who is suspected of having Ebola.

3pm UPDATE

Public Health England has this afternoon said a woman patient admitted to Northampton General Hospital did not have the Ebola virus.

The woman, who had recently returned from abroad, was isolated at the hospital last night/Weds.

This morning the hospital said: "Tests have now shown that the patient is malaria negative and Ebola is considered unlikely.  Further testing is being done as a precaution, as is usual practice in these circumstances.

We are confident that all appropriate actions are being taken to protect the public's health and ensure there is no risk to patients or staff."

Public Health England said this afternoon tests carried out proved negative for the virus.

FIRST IN (earlier today)

A spokesman for the hospital said: "A patient with a suspected case of Ebola was admitted to Northampton General Hospital this evening," adding it was a woman.

The hospital was unable to provide further details about the identity of the woman or how she may have contracted the illness but a Public Health England (PHE) spokesman confirmed the patient had a history of travel to west Africa, although it thought Ebola was "unlikely".

A hospital statement said: "Tests have now shown that the patient is malaria negative. Ebola is considered unlikely but testing is being done as a precaution, as is usual practice in these circumstances.

"We are confident that all appropriate actions are being taken to protect the public's health and ensure there is no risk to patients or staff."

Asked if she was in an isolation unit, the spokesman added: "She will be in isolation if she is suspected of having the illness."

A PHE statement said: "PHE can confirm it is due to receive a sample for Ebola testing, involving an individual at Northampton General Hospital with a history of travel to west Africa.

"Ebola is considered unlikely but testing is being done as a precaution, as is our usual practice in these circumstances. Based on the evidence-based risk assessment, we are confident that all appropriate actions are being taken to protect the public's health.

"It is important to remember that the infection can only be transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids - such as blood, vomit or faeces - of an infected person.

"We have advised all front-line medical practitioners and NHS call handlers to be alert to signs and symptoms of Ebola in those returning from affected areas and following such advice we would expect to see an increase in testing."

Northampton Council leader David Mackintosh tweeted: "Have been made aware of suspected Ebola case at Northampton General Hospital who have a plan to protect the public to deal with any incident.

"Northampton Borough Council stands ready to do anything asked of it to help and support the Hospital if required."

Northampton General Hospital's website states it has "plans in place to identify and manage possible cases of Ebola in the unlikely event of a local outbreak".

These are in line with guidance issued by the Department of Health and Public Health England.

Under a headline saying "Ebola: very low risk but NGH is prepared", the website adds: "We have robust systems and processes which will ensure we are able to identify and isolate a patient who presents with symptoms of Ebola or any other infectious disease. We have sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment, and access to expert testing and advice.

"We would like to reassure local people that the risk of infection in the UK remains very low. Nevertheless we are being extremely vigilant and taking all appropriate measures to ensure we are fully prepared. Our plans are being kept under continuous review and amended as the situation changes."

The development comes after doctors treating British nurse Pauline Cafferkey for Ebola at the London's Royal Free Hospital said this week she was no longer critically ill. 

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