A New York City hospital is examining a sick patient who recently returned from a West African country where cases of Ebola have been reported, but authorities say it's unlikely that the man has the deadly virus.
The man was admitted to the Mount Sinai Hospital emergency room Monday with a high fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, according to hospital officials. He had recently traveled to a West African country where Ebola was reported.
The patient was put into strict isolation and officials are awaiting test results from the CDC, expected to be returned in a few days.
"Odds are, this is not Ebola," Dr. Jeremy Boal, chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Health System in Manhattan, said at a news conference Monday.
In the meantime, the hospital said in a statement, "all necessary steps are being taken to ensure the safety of all patients, visitors and staff."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said three Americans in the United States were tested for Ebola since the West African outbreak erupted this year; those results were negative.
Officials at U.S. airports are watching travelers from Africa for flu-like symptoms that could be tied to the recent Ebola outbreak.
The Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever that has sickened more than 1,600 people, killing nearly 900, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. It's spread through direct contact with bodily fluids. A person exposed to the virus can take up to 21 days to exhibit symptoms, making it possible for travelers to enter the U.S. without knowing they're infected.
The risk of Ebola spreading to the U.S. is very small, but in the unlikely case Ebola ever reached New York City, health officials say hospitals are prepared.
"We are prepared, to the best of our knowledge, for any patient who comes here who's suspected of Ebola virus," Dr. Ross Wilson, who is in charge of New York City's 11 hospital emergency rooms, told NBC 4 New York last week.