An American health worker exposed to the Ebola virus while working in Sierra Leone arrived in Omaha Sunday afternoon and is now being monitored at Nebraska Medicine.
Paramedics wearing full-body protective gear took the patient, who has not been identified, by ambulance from a plane that arrived at Eppley Airfield around 1:45 p.m. to the hospital, which has a specialized biocontainment unit.
“Even though the patient hasn’t had a positive test for Ebola, all of our team members are taking the same precautions that were taken with the first three patients who did have Ebola,” said hospital spokesman Taylor Wilson. “It’s out of an abundance of caution that this approach is being used.”
Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the biocontainment unit said the patient had been exposed to the virus, “but is not ill and is not contagious” at this point. Still, he said that “all appropriate precautions” will be taken to protect against potential exposures.
According to Dr. Smith, the same team that cared for the previous Ebola patients will treat this patient, who will be observed and monitored for 21 days, the incubation period of the Ebola virus. The patient’s condition will be monitored for symptoms and through blood tests.
To date, three patients with Ebola have been treated at Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Richard Sacra was treated and released in September, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo was treated and released in October and Dr. Martin Salia, who passed away from the virus after less than two days of treatment in November.