Saitama woman being tested for Ebola in Tokyo, health ministry says

A woman in her 70s from Saitama Prefecture who recently returned from a visit to Congo is now being tested for a possible Ebola infection at a medical institute in Tokyo, the health ministry said Sunday.

The woman, whose name is being withheld, came back from Congo on July 31. Her body temperature rose to 39.2 around 7 p.m. on Saturday, raising suspicions of a possible Ebola infection, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said in a press release.

At the same time, the health ministry emphasized that the result may turn out to be negative. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases will immediately release the result when it is finished, the ministry said.

An Ebola outbreak was confirmed in Congo last year, and according to World Health Organization, the total number of confirmed deaths have totaled 1,729 as of July 31 this year.

The Ebola virus can be transmitted only after a patient develops symptoms. Thus the infection risk for passengers who had flown on the same airplane as the woman would have likely been “extremely low,” the Prime Minister’s Office said on its anti-disaster Twitter account.

According to the health ministry, the woman said she had not had any contact with Ebola patients while in Congo.

Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness, with an average death rate of around 50 percent, according to the WHO.

People can be infected with Ebola either through contact with infected animals or through contact with bodily fluids from infected humans. Most cases are caused by human to human transmission.

According to the health ministry, the incubation period of Ebola is 2 to 21 days, and a patient will first suffers symptoms such as a high fever, headache and muscle aches. These symptoms are likely to be followed by vomiting, diarrhea and bloody emesis.

More information about Ebola can be found on the WHO website: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/ebola/frequently-asked-questions