A Loudoun County inmate with a low-grade fever who had recently traveled from Ebola-affected areas of West Africa was transported Thursday to Inova Loudoun Hospital, according to Loudoun County officials.
The inmate, a middle-aged woman who had traveled from a high-risk area known for Ebola outbreaks within the past 21 days, was kept in isolation and monitored at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center as a precautionary measure, according to officials who addressed the incident at a Leesburg press conference Thursday afternoon.
Tony Raker, spokesperson for Inova Loudoun Hospital, said in an e-mail that the patient had not been tested for Ebola but was deemed “a rule out prior to testing.” County health officials said they are still monitoring the case.
The woman, who was wanted on unspecified “minor” charges in Maryland, was taken into custody Oct. 13 at Dulles Airport, according to Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman. While awaiting her extradition to Maryland, the woman was isolated and monitored at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center because of her travel history.
On Thursday morning, the woman was found to have a low-grade fever, and was transported by Loudoun County Fire and Rescue to the emergency room in the Basic Life Support unit of the hospital in Lansdowne.
The woman’s recorded fever was lower than the threshold typically considered symptomatic, “but nevertheless, we felt that in an abundance of caution, it would be a very good thing to have this individual checked out,” Chapman said.
Because there are stringent testing guidelines for Ebola, medical officials were still determining whether or not the woman merits testing for the virus, according to Dr. David Goodfriend of the Loudoun County Health Department.
“We don’t know if this person ever came in contact with anyone who had Ebola, but. . .we thought that it made better sense to err on the side of caution,” Goodfriend said.
For the past six weeks, authorities in Loudoun have been preparing for the possibility of an Ebola case, officials said. Personnel who participated in the transportation of the inmate to the hospital had been fully trained and used all recommended safety precautions, Chapman said.
“There were a lot of people involved in this, and it was just a very good showing as far as all of us working together to try to make the best of a very difficult situation here,” he said.
Heather Williamson, a spokeswoman for the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, said several cases had to be continued because the jail was placed briefly on lockdown, meaning inmates could not be transported from there to the courthouse. She said court was expected to open as normal Friday — and did not actually close Thursday — and referred other questions to jail officials.
Earlier Thursday, Loudoun officials issued a statement to note that the county was prepared for the possibility of a local Ebola case.
“As the home of Dulles Airport, it is critical that we are prepared for any eventuality,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) said in the prepared statement. “We take our mission to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Loudoun very seriously.”
The county employs the National Incident Management System, “the national standard of preparedness training for people who may be involved in the management of, response to, or recovery from an emergency or disaster,” County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said in the statement. “Through a coordinated, inter-agency, all-hazards response, Loudoun is prepared to handle all types of situations, from a severe weather event to an outbreak of disease.”
Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.