HEALTH

Ebola scare triggered at Johns Hopkins by malaria patient

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BALTIMORE, Md. (ABC News) -- Emergency room physicians at Johns Hopkins Medicine thought one of their patients had Ebola, but it turned out to be a false alarm, according to an internal memo obtained Tuesday by ABC News.

Johns Hopkins. (file photo)

The patient was ultimately diagnosed with malaria, but Dr. Trish Perl, a senior epidemiologist at the hospital in Baltimore, wrote in a memo to her staff that those involved did a "remarkable job" identifying and isolating the patient as well as making sure a minimal number of people were at risk for contracting the virus.

"This is a 'wake up' call for all of us to recognize that we are vulnerable because of the patients we serve and our location," Perl wrote.

Johns Hopkins Medicine said it could not provide more information because of patient confidentiality and federal privacy laws.

"Our staff trains frequently to ensure that the hospital is prepared for all types of scenarios," the hospital said in a statement to ABC News. "If a patient were to have suspected Ebola virus, the patient would be placed in isolation, staff would begin taking standard precautions, and the patient would be evaluated by our infectious disease specialists."

On Monday, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City announced that it was treating a possible Ebola patient who recently traveled to West Africa and was experiencing a high fever and gastrointestinal symptoms. Doctors isolated the patient and sent blood samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, but hospital officials said at a news conference Monday night that the patient was "unlikely" to have the deadly virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said it has tested blood samples from perhaps six people with possible Ebola symptoms who had recently traveled to West Africa.

The death toll of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone climbed to 887, the World Health Organization said. 1,603 people have been infected, in all.

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