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Northern California patient tested for possible Ebola exposure

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - Blood samples from a patient at a Northern California hospital, who is suspected of having been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus, will be tested by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said.

There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, though two American relief workers who contracted the disease in Liberia were flown back to America for treatment earlier this month.

Since a recent outbreak of the disease in West Africa that has killed more than 1,200 people, several people suspected of exposure have been examined in the United States.

In the latest case, a patient admitted to South Sacramento Medical Center in California's state capital may have been exposed to the Ebola virus, Kaiser Permanente, the company that operates the hospital, said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be testing blood samples to rule out the presence of the virus," officials from Kaiser Permanente said. They said the patient had been isolated in a negative pressure room even though the case had not been confirmed as Ebola.

The results of the test are expected within days, said Laura McCasland, spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.

Ebola, a hemorrhagic disease which can kill up to 90 percent of those it infects, has claimed more than 1,200 lives this year in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and also has infected people in Nigeria. It is the worst outbreak of the disease.

Kaiser Permanente and state and county health officials did not release details on the Northern California patient's gender, condition or possible travel to Africa.

"There have been no patients admitted to California hospitals who are considered to be at high risk of Ebola according to CDC criteria," the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.

On Monday, citing "an abundance of caution," New Mexico health officials said they were carrying out tests on a female teacher who returned from Sierra Leone this month and was in stable condition at the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNM) in Albuquerque.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bernadette Baum)

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