Another patient on virus alert

A man presenting symptoms similar to viral haemorrhagic fever has been admitted to the Life Fourways Hospital in Johannesburg.

The 55-year-old South African citizen, who lives in Malawi, arrived at the hospital on Thursday at 7pm and was brought in to the trauma and emergency unit before being placed in an isolation unit as a precaution, said hospital spokesperson Marietjie Shelly on Friday.

”He had high temperature, severe abdominal and kidney pain, and vomiting. Initial blood tests gave no indication of internal bleeding,” he said.

”Even though no diagnosis has as yet been made for the patient’s condition, as is routine full infection control protocols were immediately implemented and he was placed in an isolation unit.”

This was done as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of hospital staff, patients and visitors.

”He walked into the hospital, he wasn’t flown in or brought in by ambulance,” said Shelly.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases had been informed about the latest admission, she said.

A broad range of blood tests and screenings were currently in progress as these symptoms may also be indicative of other non-infectious conditions.

Just a month ago, American scientists identified a new type of arenavirus that caused the deaths of four people since September. A name was still being chosen for the virus.

The first person known to have died from the virus was Cecilia van Deventer, who was flown from Zambia to South Africa in September for emergency treatment. Three previous visits to health facilities had failed to determine what was wrong with her.

Since then the paramedic who accompanied her, Hannes Elf, a nurse at the Morningside Medi-Clinic, Gladys Mthembu, and contract cleaner Maria Mokobung have died.

Another nursing sister is currently receiving treatment at the Morningside Medi-Clinic after presenting with symptoms. However, she had since been moved from the intensive-care unit.

”She’s improved that much … however, she’s is still in isolation,” said hospital spokesperson Melinda Pelser.

Pelser said doctors indicated that the nursing sister was not infectious anymore.

As a precautionary measure the woman would be kept in isolation for three more weeks.

Thirty-nine people who had been in contact with her were still being monitored for signs of the virus. — Sapa

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