Update: Massachusetts General Hospital released a statement Wednesday afternoon announcing the initial test for Ebola came back negative, and that the patient tested positive for malaria. The patient remains in isolation, however, as more testing is needed to definitively rule out Ebola, officials say.
A patient suspected of having contracted Ebola is currently undergoing testing for the deadly virus at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, officials confirmed Tuesday night.
The individual is in isolation and "in stable condition and good spirits," Dr. Paul Biddinger, the hospital's director of emergency preparedness, said in a press conference. Test results for the patient could come back as early as overnight Tuesday, Dr. Biddinger said, though he declined to comment on the patient's symptoms, travel history, or other details that would suggest why the individual fit the Centers for Disease Control's definition of "a person under investigation for the Ebola virus."
"This absolutely does not mean that the person may or may not have Ebola."'
The patient presented at the hospital at approximately 2 p.m. with symptoms consistent with Ebola, according to hospital officials. However, "this absolutely does not mean that the person may or may not have Ebola," Dr. Biddinger stressed, noting that the patient could have one of many other diseases that are "much more likely than Ebola."
The possible Ebola case, the first in the U.S. in many weeks, brings renewed attention to the virus just hours after President Obama addressed the National Institutes of Health outside Washington, D.C., to call on Congress to pass a $6 billion emergency funding request to fight the disease before lawmakers break for the holidays.
Nearly 6,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have died from the current Ebola epidemic, according to World Health Organization estimates. Though the disease’s spread has slowed in Liberia and Guinea, it continues to worsen in Sierra Leone.
American lives will remain at risk as long as the Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa, President Obama warned.
No matter the outcome of the Boston patient's tests, Massachusetts General Hospital is "extremely confident" they can handle the case, Dr. Biddinger said Tuesday, as hospital staff have been preparing for an Ebola case "for months." No other patients are in danger, he added.
Emma Margolin contributed reporting.