A woman with Ebola-like symptoms who recently returned from a country affected by Ebola was taken to a hospital in Arlington County, Virginia, Thursday morning. Officials said it was unclear whether she had contracted the disease. Firefighters arrived at the woman’s apartment in hazmat suits after receiving a call around 9:30 a.m. The patient, who has not been identified, was taken to Virginia Hospital Center, according to ARLnow.com.
“While it’s unlikely it’s Ebola, the fire department and the responding hospital are taking all appropriate precautions,” Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani told ARLnow.com. Marchegiani said the department dispatches an Ebola response team when a person has a history of traveling to an affected country and symptoms consistent with the disease that has killed more than 9,000 people and infected 14,000 others in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began last March.
The patient has not been diagnosed with Ebola but was put into isolation, according to CBS Local. It was unclear whether the woman lived alone or with others. Virginia Hospital Center is located about 7 miles from Washington, D.C.
Transmission rates of the virus remained “widespread” in Sierra Leone last week, according to the World Health Organization’s latest status report on the outbreak. The week ending Feb. 15 saw 128 new cases of Ebola across West Africa, nearly half of which occurred in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.
The outbreak that health officials in September said was “spiraling out of control” has since slowed. The flood of new cases has become a trickle. But concerns remain over the virus making a comeback as the region struggles to upgrade its battered health infrastructure.
During the height of the outbreak last fall, fears of the virus spreading across the globe were rampant. In the U.S., concerns over people entering the country with Ebola led to mandatory health screenings for incoming travelers at several major international airports. The growing hysteria gave rise to Ebola false alarms – people sick with flu-like symptoms being taken to the hospital by emergency responders in full protective gear, only to test negative for the virus.
In October, there was a suspected case of Ebola at the Pentagon. It was later revealed that the patient had lied about her travel history and did not have Ebola.