|Jakarta - A person who had fallen ill with high fever after a recent trip to Nigeria died on Tuesday night at a North Sumatra hospital, sparking fears the patient may have been infected with the Ebola virus, even though malaria seems more likely.
The 57-year-patient, whose name and gender have not been disclosed, died in the isolation ward of Haji Adam Malik general hospital in Medan.
The patient, who had returned from a trip to Nigeria on Aug. 28, had sought treatment for high fever at a hospital in North Sumatra’s Deli Serdang district before transferred to Haji Adam Malik hospital on Sunday.
Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the Health Ministry’s head of research, said a first polymerase chain reaction test came up negative, but officials were still waiting for the results of a second and third test.
“It is true that the patient had just returned from Nigeria and the incubation timeline was suitable for Ebola,” Tjandra told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday. “However, there is no community transmission of Ebola in Nigeria, unlike in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea,” he added. “The health system in Nigeria is also better and the Ebola fatality rate in the country is lower compared to the three other countries.”
According to World Health Organization data, as of Saturday 4,269 (probable, confirmed and suspected) Ebola cases and 2,288 deaths have been reported in the current outbreak by health authorities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In Nigeria, the WHO said in an update released on Monday, there have been 21 cases and eight deaths.
Nevertheless, Tjandra said the North Sumatra patient was suffering from a serious illness at the time of referral to the Medan hospital.
“When the patient was admitted to Adam Malik, the condition was severe and there was multiple organ failure, but this is can also be caused by other diseases,” Tjandra said. “So to confirm whether or not this is a case of Ebola, let’s just wait for the result of the second and third PCR test that are being conducted at our laboratorium.”
Josia Ginting, the internist who treated the patient, said the symptoms initially suggested malaria. However, he told Tribunnews, doctors in Medan were also waiting for the result of the lab test.