It’s malaria, not ebola

By , on November 17, 2014

Caballo Island (Photo courtesy of Corregidor ProBoards)
Caballo Island (Photo courtesy of Corregidor ProBoards)

MANILA — The country is still ebola-free.

Health Acting Secretary Janette L. Garin, in a press briefing held at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City on Saturday afternoon, said the tests on a Filipino peacekeeper, who came from Liberia and was reported to have been detected with fever, showed negative from ebola virus disease.

The peacekeeper was among those who were directed to undergo the 21-days quarantine period at the Caballo Island but was transferred to Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City after suffering fever.

Garin said that based on the tests result, the peace keeper was diagnosed or was found positive with malaria parasite.

“He is now all right and undergoing treatment for malaria. Every eight hours his blood is being examined to ensure the progress,” said Garin, adding that malaria infection caused the recurrence of and on and off fever to the patient.

She also said that they were expecting the patient to be in stable condition within three to five days as they give a combination therapy to fight the “plasmodium falciparum” (malaria causing parasite) in the body of the patient.

She said that the presence of malaria in the patient had either stemmed from two possible reasons.

“It was possible that when he was treated before, the treatment was not properly done. The other probable reason was he was afflicted with malaria one or two weeks before he left Liberia,” she said.

She said that the patient would be transferred to a regular room soon and there was no need to be place in an isolation room.

She also said RITM repeatedly conducted confirmatory test for ebola in its laboratory to ensure accuracy of the test.

She added that included also in the said test was checking whether the patient had developed anti-bodies also to ebola.

Early in the morning, the DOH had earlier cited that the results may possibly be out within 48 hours to ensure certainty of results through repeated tests.

“The 48 hours we set was just an estimate we did to produce the result. It is not absolute at all because results can be generated earlier than what was estimated,” the DOH lady acting secretary said.

She said estimate was given so that in case of equivocal or “uncertain interpretation” that would be requiring repeated procedures on the test that was initially conducted for comparative result.

The DOH assured that with the negative result of EVD for the patient there is no need for further test.

The patient was among the more than 100 repatriated Filipino peacekeepers who returned from Liberia, a country where ebola outbreak was noted.

Before their repatriation, the Filipino peacekeepers were subjected to a United Nations-supervised Ebola-screening test in Monrovia, and were subsequently cleared.

Upon return to the Philippines, they were taken to the quarantine site in Caballo Island for further monitoring so that in case that a suspected case of ebola or symptoms of EVD was detected, there would be an easier management or control of the infection.

The quarantine site is a standard procedure that they have to follow to ensure that they (soldiers) and their family are protected from EVD.

EVD is a viral hemorrhagic disease whose symptoms appears within 2 to 21 days.