North Carolina hospital isolates wing for patient who had visited 'high-risk' country

Portions of a North Carolina hospital were shut down while doctors tested a patient for communicable disease.


One corridor was closed Wednesday morning at Charlotte's Carolinas Medical Center, with a security guard posted outside to prevent entry, reported WSOC-TV.

Hospital officials initially offered little information about the situation, but they issued a statement shortly after noon to explain that a patient had arrived at the emergency room late Tuesday evening after “visiting a country known for high risk of infectious diseases.”

The hospital did not specify which country or disease specifically triggered the unusual level of caution but said “all appropriate infection control measures” were taken to protect the public.

“After consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and NC Department of Health and Human Services, it appears the risk for communicable disease is low,” the hospital said in a statement. “No further testing is needed and the patient will be sent home.”

The emergency department reopened Tuesday afternoon, but social media speculation centered on fears about the Ebola virus.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is calling for a travel ban on Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, where more than 700 people have died since early this year from the Ebola virus.

Two Americans, including a missionary from North Carolina, are among more than 1,200 people infected by the virus.

Grayson asked the Obama administration to impose a ban on citizens from those countries entering the U.S. and travelers who have visited those countries in the past 90 days.

Grayson also asked for the ban to be expanded to countries that report originating cases of the disease.

The virus typically has a mortality rate of 90 percent, although the recent outbreak has killed just 60 percent of infected patients.

Experts say the virus could potentially spread to the U.S., but the chances of an outbreak are remote.

"It's not like West Nile virus, where there's a successful animal reservoir that keeps the disease endemic, and medical practice in the U.S. is certainly different," said Dr. Preston Church, an infectious disease specialist at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Watch this video report posted online by WSOC-TV: