Uppsala, Sweden: A patient in Sweden who was admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Ebola, was found not to be suffering from the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease, health care officials said Friday.
“The young man… who had symptoms… is not suffering from Ebola. That is what the result of tests shows,” the health authorities in Uppsala, about 70 kilometres north of Stockholm, said in a statement.
“The patient came in this morning. He was throwing up blood and had bloody stools,” which can be a symptom of Ebola, Mikael Kohler, a medical director for Uppsala Region, said earlier.
The young man, whose identity has not been released, lives in Sweden and had returned from a trip to Burundi three weeks ago but was not known to have visited any Ebola-contaminated area, Kohler said.
The symptoms first appeared this morning.
After the patient was admitted to hospital, the emergency room of that hospital was closed, and staff who came in contact with the patient were being cared for, authorities said earlier.
Ebola is one of the world’s most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal.
It is caused by a virus that has a natural reservoir in the bat, which does not itself fall ill, but can pass the microbe on to humans who hunt it for “bushmeat”.
The virus is handed on by contact with bodily fluids – touching a sick or dead person is a well-known source of infection.
Following an incubation period of between two and 21 days, Ebola develops into a high fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat.
That is often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.
The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring west African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
That outbreak killed more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases, according to WHO estimates, although the real figure is thought to be significantly higher.
An Ebola outbreak ravaging eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed several hundred lives.
It is the 10th such outbreak in the Congo since the disease was first detected there in 1976.
On Thursday, director general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that the outbreak was occurring in “the most difficult context imaginable”.
He added: “To end it [the outbreak], the response needs to be supported and expanded, not further complicated. Ebola is unforgiving, and disruptions give the virus the advantage.”
To date, more than 54,000 people in DRC, including frontline responders and those at risk of having contact with the disease, have been vaccinated.
Fatality rates for Ebola have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization.
The virus spreads from human to human through close contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the disease.
The incubation period for Ebola – the gap between an individual being infected and showing symptoms – is up to 21 days, meaning it is possible for an infected person to travel widely before realising they have the disease.
Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms, which at first are fever, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat.
The worst Ebola epidemic ended in West Africa two years ago after killing more than 11,300 people and infecting about 28,600 across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Cases outside of Africa have been isolated. Pauline Cafferkey, a Scottish nurse who volunteered in Sierra Leone in December 2014, was the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the UK.
She survived but has since been readmitted to hospital on several occasions.
Image: The University hospital in Uppsala, Sweden, where the patient is being cared for. Photograph: Fredrik Persson/EPA