Over the last three weeks, 68 people have been tested for the Ebola virus in the United States, the Center for Disease Control told ABC News.
According to the CDC, the virus has claimed more than 1,200 lives in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria since the outbreak began. Despite recent scares, there has yet to be a confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S.
Two patients who health officials have described as 'low risk' are currently being held in New Mexico and California hospitals awaiting their official test results. Yesterday, WSB-TV Atlanta reported that a local man tested negative for the virus.
According to the World Health Organization the initial symptoms of Ebola can be high fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea. Possible diagnosis' of these symptoms include malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, meningitis, hepatitis, relapsing fever, leptospirosis, rickettsiosis and "viral haemorrhagic fevers," which range from mild viruses to life threatening diseases.
In addition to the broad early symptoms that Ebola patients will often experience, the CDC notes that patients likely wouldn't qualify for testing unless they've been in recent contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of someone who has the virus.
Once the CDC has spoken with a hospital and determined that someone is at risk, the patient is quarantined and a blood sample is sent to an agency lab for testing.
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told ABC News that the CDC works closely with hospitals and clinics to determine whether or not the patient should be tested, a process that likely weeds out those with common viruses from potential carriers.
"If somebody had traveled to Guinea and came back and had a fever and has never been to a place where Ebola is transmitted, there’s no reason to suspect there's Ebola just because Ebola is circulating in Guinea,” Nordlund said on Wednesday.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.