An Inglewood hospital announced Wednesday that a “possible Ebola patient” had been admitted to its emergency room after traveling from Liberia to LAX, but the county’s public health chief said the patient was not suspected of having the potentially deadly virus.
The individual was brought to Centinela Hospital Medical Center by ambulance from Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday night, the hospital stated.
“The patient does not have any symptoms of Ebola, however, due to travel history, appropriate precautions were implemented,” the hospital’s statement read.
The unidentified person, who was referred to in the statement’s headline as a “possible Ebola patient,” has been fully isolated in the emergency room and all appropriate testing will be conducted, the hospital said.
In an afternoon conference call with reporters, Los Angeles County’s health chief said the case at the Inglewood hospital did not constitute a “suspected case” of Ebola under federal definitions from the CDC.
“There are no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in Los Angeles County at this time,” said interim health officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
A suspected case, Gunzenhauser said, is an individual with a fever who has traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea — West African countries where Ebola has struck.
“The case … that was reported from Centinela does not meet this level, so it’s not a suspected case of Ebola,” Gunzenhauser said.
The county has confirmed the patient did travel to Liberia and had “some kind of symptoms” when he arrived at LAX, where officials called for transport to a hospital, he said. The individual’s symptoms could not be disclosed, but “clinical criteria” for a suspected Ebola case was not met in the patient, Gunzenhauser said.
“It’s really a no-risk situation from our point of view,” Gunzenhauser said.
Steve Brand, a spokesman for the Inglewood hospital, had earlier said the patient had not yet tested negative for Ebola. That contradicted information from hospital officials that was provided to the Los Angeles Times, which reported that eight patients in Los Angeles County have tested negative for the Ebola virus, including the one admitted in Inglewood.
Gunzenhauser said he could not provide or confirm a figure for the number of patients tested for Ebola in the county.
“All appropriate testing” was “in process” on the Inglewood patient, Gunzenhauser said, but he could not disclose which tests were performed. However, he said, the county was confident there was no threat of Ebola with the patient.
He said he could not disclose whether any test results were negative or positive.
A definitive answer as to when patient may leave the hospital was expected within “half a day or so,” Gunzenhauser said.
In Inglewood, the hospital staff prepared for the patient’s arrival in accordance with CDC protocols, the medical center’s statement said. Gunzenhauser said the county’s public health department was working with the hospital to ensure proper procedures and testing.
The response at the airport and the hospital was not an overreaction, Gunzenhauser said.
“If there was a confirmed case in Los Angeles County, the Department of Public would be letting everyone know about that,” Gunzenhauser said.
Centinela Hospital Medical Center was “fully open to seeing patients,” the center’s statement concluded.
The announcement in Inglewood came the same day as Dallas hospital officials said that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan had died. He had traveled to the United States from Liberia, and did not develop symptoms until after his arrival in Texas.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that five of the biggest, busiest airports in the U.S. — not including LAX — will have enhanced Ebola screening for passengers coming from the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
More than 94 percent of travelers from those countries enter the U.S. through the five airports that have been selected, CNN reported, citing the CDC. The new airport screenings will occur at New York’s John F. Kennedy, Washington-Dulles outside the nation’s capital, Newark in northern New Jersey, O’Hare in Chicago and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.
KTLA’s Steve Bien contributed to this article.