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Cairns nurse isolated, being assessed

Thursday 9 October 2014

Queensland Health can confirm a patient is being assessed at the Cairns Hospital by infectious diseases experts.

The patient is being assessed for a range of infections including Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and has been isolated and being managed in accordance with recommended infection control procedures for EVD as a precaution.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the 57 year-old woman had recently returned to Cairns after helping to treat EVD patients in Sierra Leone with Red Cross International.

“As recommended by national guidelines, this patient has been isolating herself at home and checking her temperature twice daily since her return, and today has reported an elevated temperature of 37.6 degrees.”

“Importantly, she has reported that while in Sierra Leone strict Personal Protective Equipment or PPE procedures were followed at all times and were not breached at any stage.

“However, as her temperature does demonstrate a low-grade fever which can be symptomatic of Ebola virus disease, all necessary precautions are being taken.”

Dr Young said test results were expected back in the early hours of tomorrow morning (Friday).

“The broader community is not at risk of contracting Ebola virus disease regardless of whether this health care worker has the disease or not.”

“While Ebola is a very serious disease, it is not highly contagious as it cannot be caught through coughing or sneezing; a person is not infectious until they are unwell with the disease.

“The risk of infection is extremely low unless there has been direct exposure to the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal such as vomit, blood or faeces.

Dr Young said Queensland’s hospitals, health services, ambulance workforce, general practices, and other medical staff had been continually updated with specific guidance in the management of a potential Ebola virus disease case.

“Our plans are working and as with all Queensland health facilities, the Cairns Hospital has processes in place to manage these types of infections.”

“We are prepared.”

For more information visit Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Last updated: 9 October 2014