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HUS: Ebola scare unfounded, probably a case of malaria

Fears of Finland’s first Ebola infection have turned out to be unfounded, according to officials from the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS). HUS said in a statement Friday evening that preliminary tests results show that a man suspected of having the disease was not, in fact, infected with the virus. Health officials say that the man is most likely suffering from a malarial infection.

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HUS said that preliminary tests havs shown no sign of Ebola in a man thought have been infected by the virus. Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

In a release issued early Friday evening HUS said that reports that a man admitted to a Helsinki hospital had been infected with the Ebola virus proved to be unfounded.

In a press conference later on health officials said they suspect the man may be suffering from malaria. Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease whose symptoms - fever, fatigue, headaches and vomiting -- may resemble the early stages of Ebola.

The hospital district said that initial tests have shown no signs of Ebola infection in the patient, who had been admitted to the Meilahti hospital in Helsinki Thursday evening.

Further tests to be administered

HUS said that the test results, which came in Friday evening, could be considered highly reliable.

However the patient will remain in observation over the weekend while new tests are conducted, HUS added.

HUS described the patient’s condition as good and said that his treatment is progressing well. Hospital officials said that they are operating according to standard procedures agreed with health authorities and noted that they are taking precautions to minimise unnecessary contact with other individuals.

The middle-aged American man had traveled from Liberia to Finland at the beginning of October and recently sought medical care for a high fever. The man had reportedly been working in Liberia.

Patient contacts known to authorities

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said Friday morning that the people with whom the patient had been in contact since developing Ebola-like symptoms are now known.

An Ebola infection is not contagious before symptoms are displayed, and even then the virus can only be transmitted via direct contact with bodily fluids.

Earlier this week the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that there had been more than 13,000 cases of Ebola infections in West Africa this year, with nearly 5,000 deaths reported.

The worst-affected countries include Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where all but 10 of the fatalities have occurred.

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