An American nurse who was exposed to Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone will be admitted to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Clinical Center for observation later today.
She will be admitted into the center's special clinical studies unit so that screening protocols can be carried out. The NIH unit provides isolation capabilities at high levels, and facility staff is trained in dealing with infection control practices, which minimizes the risk of the disease spreading if the patient does in fact have Ebola.
The patient was in Sierra Leone treating victims of the current Ebola epidemic raging through West Africa.
The NIH said it is taking every precaution to prevent the potential spread of this disease and the patient poses minimal risk to staff, patients and the public.
The Ebola hemorrhagic fever virus is a disease with a high mortality rate. It is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids. Symptoms of the virus include a high fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and spontaneous bleeding or bruising.
The epidemic affecting West Africa — specifically Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone -- includes 17,908 reported cases and 6,373 deaths as of today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
Outside of those countries, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the U.S. have seen 24 cases linked to the West Africian epidemic.
The U.S. has had four confirmed Ebola cases with one fatality.