By: Dr. Sircus
October 24, 2014
Ebola is difficult to diagnose when a person is first infected because the early symptoms, such as fever, are also symptoms of other diseases, such as malaria and typhoid fever and even common influenza. “The symptoms are extremely nonspecific in the beginning — Ebola looks like almost anything,” said Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an infectious-disease specialist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York.
Enhanced Ebola screenings began Saturday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as authorities moved to ensure passengers potentially carrying the virus don’t make it into the United States. Anyone traveling from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will be singled out by Customs and Border Protection, who will take their temperature with a non-contact thermometer and ask them a series of questions.
The most common test for Ebola is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Unfortunately this test can be negative during the first three days an infected person has symptoms, said Dr. Sandro Cinti, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Michigan Hospital System/Ann Arbor VA Health System. “Somebody could be in the hospital for three to five days before a diagnosis [of Ebola] is confirmed,” Cinti told Live Science. “The important thing is keeping the patient isolated until you can get to a diagnosis.”
We have already seen an entire cruise ship denied port because of one woman with the flu who ended up being negative for Ebola when tested. What are health and medical officials going to do when the flu season starts in earnest?