September 2014 – AUSTRALIA – A Gold Coast man suspected of contracting the deadly Ebola virus has been cleared. Queensland Health confirmed on Thursday evening all blood tests taken from the 27-year-old had returned a negative result. Earlier the state’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, had to call for calm following reports that tourists had begun checking out of their accommodation and parents had pulled children out of schools. The man was taken to the Gold Coast University hospital from the Southport watch house on Thursday morning after complaining of feeling unwell. Health authorities triggered contagious disease protocols after it was revealed he had returned from West Africa in late August, via Perth airport. Young thanked all health and ambulance staff involved in handling the patient. “It was a job well done and serves to show the community that our emergency preparedness plans are sound, and that they can rely on their health services,” she said in a statement. Earlier, in response to social media reports of panic, Young said: “The community needs to know that there is an extremely low risk of contracting Ebola, regardless of whether this man’s test results come back positive or negative.
“Ebola virus disease is not a highly contagious disease like the flu or a cold; it requires direct exposure to an infected person’s bodily fluids such as blood, vomit or feces, during the time they are infectious.” Social media reports and calls to health hotlines had suggested people were cancelling holidays to Queensland, removing children from school and panicking, she said. “There is absolutely no need for people to panic.” Associate professor Allen Cheng from the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine at Monash University said the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the man had travelled, was not where the primary outbreak of Ebola had occurred, and malaria was much more likely to be the cause of his symptoms. Malaria, spread by mosquitoes, typically has symptoms including high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like symptoms similar to the initial signs of Ebola, Cheng said. –Guardian