A 5-year-old boy who recently returned to New York City from the West African nation of Guinea is being tested for Ebola after he was rushed to the hospital with symptoms consistent with the disease, according to health officials.
The child was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center on Sunday night by emergency medical workers outfitted in protective gear and immediately placed in isolation.
The New York City health commissioner, Mary T. Bassett, speaking on MSNBC, said that they expected to get the results back by early afternoon. She declined to go into detail of the child’s symptoms, citing privacy concerns.
The family returned in recent days from Guinea and the people who lived in the home with the boy were immediately ordered quarantined in their apartment, according to city officials.
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While the child’s travel history was clear, and worrisome, it was less certain whether he had any known contacts with people infected with Ebola.
On Monday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio answered questions about the child’s situation during a news conference, but he too declined to provide specific details about the child’s symptoms.
“The child at first did not appear to have any symptoms,” he said. But around 7 a.m., the child’s temperature had elevated to just over 100 degrees, according to health officials.
The boy’s mother is with him at the hospital, the mayor said, because, “by definition, we want her with the child, because we want the child to have the support of his mother.”
“The mother has no symptoms whatsoever,” he said.
There have been dozens of suspicious cases in New York City, and in almost all of the cases, doctors were able to rule out Ebola without performing a blood test.
They were especially cautious about drawing blood from a 5-year-old, but because of the patient’s recent travel history and pattern of symptoms, the city health department decided to move forward with testing.
Officials said that when the boy was first presented at the hospital, he did not have a fever but then he became febrile at 7 a.m.
“As a further precaution, the health department’s team of disease detectives has begun to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk,” the city health department said in a statement.
Craig Spencer, the doctor who became the first patient in New York to test positive for Ebola, remained in serious but stable condition at the same hospital.
Children are particularly prone to dehydrate quickly, so they are generally more vulnerable than adults with any kind of illness that results in loss of bodily fluids, according to experts.