Hospital: Ebola virus survivor not infected again
WORCESTER, Massachusetts (AP) — A Massachusetts doctor who is back in the hospital after he was successfully treated for the Ebola virus last month isn’t infected again with it, hospital officials said Sunday.
UMass Memorial Medical Center said test results for Dr. Rick Sacra came back negative for the virus, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that Sacra’s symptoms were not due to Ebola.
Sacra was admitted to the hospital for observation on Saturday after he came in complaining of a cough and low-grade fever. Doctors said he was in stable condition and they did not suspect he was suffering a recurrence of Ebola virus but put him in isolation as a precaution, while awaiting test results from the CDC.
The CDC informed the hospital Sunday evening that testing for Sacra came back negative, hospital spokeswoman Peggy Thrappas said in a news release. She said Sacra would be removed from isolation and would continue to receive routine care for an upper respiratory tract infection.
Sacra, of Holden, contracted the virus while working in Africa. He returned to Massachusetts on Sept. 25 after weeks of treatment at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital.
Dr. Robert Finberg, who is leading Sacra’s medical team, said at a news conference earlier Sunday that doctors were confident Sacra’s symptoms were not related to the Ebola virus he contracted in Africa. Finberg and hospital President Patrick Muldoon also stressed there was no threat to the public.
“People are very concerned, that’s why we’re being extremely cautious,” Finberg said. “We’re not taking risks with Dr. Sacra and his caregivers.”
Asked why doctors believe Sacra’s symptoms were not related to Ebola, Finberg said he was not aware of any case of Ebola recurring in surviving patients, and Sacra was feeling better and eating.
“People with Ebola don’t feel like eating. They feel like throwing up,” Finberg said. “The fact that he’s eating and he feels pretty good, I think is a very good sign.”
Finberg said Sacra was just being responsible when he decided to go a hospital when he started feeling bad.
Sacra spent much of the last two decades in Liberia, working with a missionary group. He also works at Family Health Center of Worcester.