2nd Ebola test on NC patient is negative

A second Ebola virus test on a patient at Duke University Hospital has come back negative, the N.C. Department of Health and Human services said Wednesday.

State officials said the test, conducted 72 hours after an initial negative test for the virus, confirms that the patient is Ebola-free. The testing was conducted at the State Laboratory of Health, one of 15 state labs approved by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test blood specimens for Ebola.

The patient had been in good condition since being admitted to Duke University Hospital on Sunday with a fever. After the latest negative test was received, the patient was released from the hospital, officials said.

The quarantine and monitoring measures used on people who had contact with the patient also have ended.

The patient, who recently returned to the United States from West Africa, will continue to be monitored for fever or other symptoms for 21 days after leaving Africa. That is the protocol in the United States for all people who visit West Africa.

Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos said she was pleased at the negative test but added, “We must continue to prepare for the possibility that an individual in North Carolina might be diagnosed with Ebola while the outbreak is still occurring in West Africa.”

Ebola, which has caused thousands of deaths in four West African nations, is contagious only after the onset of symptoms.