Update: Ebola scare for Ahwatukee man called 'false alarm'

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX – Health officials have just confirmed that a potential Ebola scare with an Ahwatukee man is a false alarm. The man's condition is also said to be "improving."

Here is the statement from the Maricopa County Department of Health:

"Results from Arizona State Lab are negative from Ebola. Patient will continue to be monitored for 21 days by Maricopa County Public Health per CDC protocol for return travelers."

Emergency workers took every precaution earlier Friday, after the man from Ahwatukee, who recently returned from West Africa, reported severe, flu-like symptoms.

The 32-year-old man called 911 around 3 a.m. Friday, reporting vomiting and diarrhea. He said he had returned from Sierra Leone on Wednesday.

The Phoenix Fire Department responded to the man's home near Pecos Road and 48th Street. He was treated and transported to the Maricopa Medical Center, which is the state's designated infectious disease center.

Officials treated this as a hazmat situation. Firefighters and hospital workers were dressed in full protective gear.

The man was  being tested for Ebola and flu. However, officials had said earlier that his symptoms were not consistent with Ebola.

"We've been preparing for these kinds of encounters with patients who had traveled for quite some time," said Dr. Robert Fromm, chief medical officer at the Maricopa Integrated Health System. "This was an opportunity to exercise our complete process. Out of abundance of caution, we did follow our normal process for this type of a disorder so we did close off a section of our emergency department for a period of time."

Officials said the man was in West Africa as part of the Ebola response, but did not treat any patients.

"This individual did not come into contact with anyone with Ebola in West Africa," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical officer for disease control at Maricopa County Department of Public Health. "This person has not treated any patients, did not attend any funeral services, therefore, this person is at a very low risk for having Ebola."

Officials said the man traveled through one of the five designated airports in the United States for Ebola health screening and they have been monitoring him since he returned from West Africa.

"He was appropriately screened by Customs and Border and CDC and we were notified that he was going to return here before he actually did return here so all of the public health processes in place worked and were successful," Sunenshine said.

Sunenshine said the man developed his symptoms after he arrived home so the passengers who were on his flight are not at risk. She also said he has not had contact with any neighbors.