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Germans Quarantined in Ebola Scare

August 5, 1999

BERLIN (AP) _ Security guards with dogs patrolled outside a Berlin hospital Thursday as doctors inside _ outfitted in astronaut-like protective clothing _ waited to find out if a man quarantined there has the deadly Ebola virus.

Doctors fear the 40-year-old German cameraman could have contracted the highly contagious virus or a related disease while on a research trip to West Africa. The man returned home Sunday and was flown by helicopter to Charite Hospital on Tuesday.

He was disoriented and suffering from kidney and liver damage, hospital spokesman Kerstin Ullrich said.

The man remains under quarantine, while doctors await test results. The hospital compound is outfitted with a high fence and spotlights. Only a few medical personnel with special passes and clothing were permitted to enter the area, and German television showed pictures of doctors inside wearing the bulky protective gear.

Meanwhile, the biologist who accompanied the sick man to the Ivory Coast was quarantined in the east German city of Jena. The mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported that the sick man’s wife had also been restricted to her home near Frankfurt/Oder and would not be permitted to leave the property until officials determine how contagious her husband’s condition is.

Neither she nor the biologist have symptoms of the illness, the report said. On Wednesday, a doctor at the hospital said it’s possible the sick man has a bacterial infection that could be treated with antibiotics.

Nonetheless, the two doctors and five assistants caring for him also were prevented from going home. They were staying in the hospital’s quarantine area as a precaution against spreading the virus, hospital officials said.

The sick man’s condition worsened Thursday, Ms. Ullrich said. She said the man is being fed artificially and treated with antibiotics pending test results.

``At times he is disoriented, meaning he doesn’t know where he is or which people are with him,″ she said.

The patient was in Africa doing research on frogs and rhesus monkeys for the University of Wuerzburg, said Greg Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva.

In the last two years, WHO has investigated about 50 possible cases of hemorraghic fever, the family of diseases including Ebola, Hartl said. None turned out to be the deadly virus, he said.

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