Hawaii Ebola scare was a "good test run" says Health Director

Hawaii Ebola scare was a "good test run" says Health Director

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The all clear has been given.  The man feared to have the Ebola virus is to be released from Queen's Medical Center today.  He is symptom free and not a risk to the public.

The patient called his doctor yesterday and then went to Queen's Medical Center which was ready for him.  He was put into isolation because of his symptoms and because he had traveled to Africa.  But they gave the all clear because the symptoms and travel itinerary didn't all match for a positive case.

"You might say this was a good test run for us. We were able strengthen our communication with our partners and key individuals," said Linda Rosen, MD, State Health Director.

The incident heightened hysteria about the disease and could bring in more patients concerned about exposure. So was all the precaution necessary?

"We wouldn't criticize that. We believe everything was done properly," said Dr. Rosen.

"If there is a high index of suspicion then I think it is appropriate to put that person into isolation," said John Berestecky, Ph.D., Kapiolani Community College Microbiology Professor.

Professor Berestecky says Ebola is not something to be taken lightly.  He was in Liberia this summer and was evacuated because of the disease.  A student of his even died from Ebola.

"While I was there essentially what I watched was this epidemic that started very slowly spin out of control," said Prof. Berestecky.

That isn't likely to happen here even though there is no cure.  For one, we are more hygienic than Liberia where bodily fluids flow almost everywhere. Plus we already have federal funding for bioterrorism that can be used for Ebola isolation.

"There is always a possibility but considering you have to travel to a very specific part of the world and in close contact with ill people the chances somebody would have that and come home and be ill and not go in and report it I think is very small," said Dr. Rosen. "We have a protocol. We have a process. I'm very confident in our disease investigation branch that we know what to do in these situations."

"I think it's important not to get hysterical about it. We can control it," said Prof. Berestecky.

The incubation period for Ebola is up to three weeks but people aren't contagious unless they have the symptoms like fever, vomiting and diarrhea. The state also posted a lot of information about Ebola online. For more Ebola information click here.

You can also find information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by clicking here.

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