Patient at Duke University Hospital tests negative for Ebola, family quarantined in Timberlake

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Patient at Duke tests negative for Ebola, family quarantined
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Blood samples taken at Duke University Hospital show a traveler from Liberia does not have the virus. He could be released if follow up tests are also negative.

TIMBERLAKE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Sheriff's deputies with Person County are keeping watch over a home in Timberlake around the clock. The home is the site where a visitor from Liberia, now in isolation at Duke University Hospital, first felt feverish and where CDC officials decided he should be tested and monitored as a possible case of Ebola.

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This is the first threat to North Carolina since the outbreak began. The patient has already tested negative for Ebola, but health officials are waiting for the results of a second test on Wednesday before they give the all clear. Meantime, three of his relatives who were with him inside the home where he first started feeling feverish are also being monitored and checked daily for any signs of symptoms.

ABC11 could not talk to the family. Authorities warned members of the media of possible quarantine risks. However, we did reach out to neighbors who said this news so close to home is scary.

"That was the first thing I thought about was Ebola," said Drucilla Cousin.

Cousin told ABC11 that Sunday around 8 p.m. people with the health department and deputies with the Person County Sheriff's Office came knocking on her door and others up and down Dick Holeman Road in Timberlake.

"They were going house to house telling us we needed to go to Helena's cafeteria," said Cousin. "That they had something they needed to talk to us about concerning the neighborhood."

At the nearby elementary school, they learned the neighborhood may have been exposed to a virus which Cousin would later learn was the Ebola virus. She would also learn that the person possibly infected was a relative of her neighbors who live right behind her home.

Without giving away anyone's identity Cousin told ABC11 she considers those in the house as friends.

"We have cookouts with them. They're really nice people," said Cousin.

She goes on to say they're from Liberia and that they've had relatives visiting back and forth ever since the woman's husband died a year ago. This latest visitor, Cousin believes, could be a nephew.

In an update Monday from the North Carolina Health and Human Services Department, officials revised the travel timeline for the visitor. They said after re-interviewing relatives and the patient and confirming with transit authorities, they found the patient landed in Newark, New Jersey from Liberia on Saturday. They said he then traveled through the night by bus to Durham. His family picked him up Sunday morning and brought him to their home in Timberlake, Person County. It was there where he began to feel feverish and self-reported to the Centers for Disease Control.

"At that time a temperature of 101.9 was registered," said Dr. Megan Davies, the state epidemiologist.

State health officials said they are confident that since the patient did not start showing symptoms until after he had traveled and that no one on that plane or bus is in danger. As for his relatives who were with him, they must now stay in their house, now guarded by deputies.

"I just know nobody can go in and nobody can come out," said Cousin, "I know the daughter is out. She can't come in and she works at a hospital. I don't know which one."

The patient is being treated by a team of doctors, nurses and supervisors who are treating him and only him. While he has tested for Ebola, health experts are waiting for a second test on Wednesday to confirm those results. If the second test is negative, leaders at DHHS said he will be allowed to return home to wait out that standard 21-day monitoring period.

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