Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Stan Greene
Observer Staff Writer 

Hazmat Team and 33 Firemen Respond to Woman With Ebola in Hollywood

LAPD, Helicopters, Firemen, Hazmat Team all swarm Woman who had just returned from Ghana


A woman sits with a child in the West Point area of Ghana

A severely ill woman who seemed to have symptoms consistent with Ebola, caused a response from firemen in Hollywood last night. In a scene right out of a Hollywood movie, a battalion of firemen along with helicopters, Los Angeles Police officers and paramedics brought 200 neighbors into the street to gawk.

The Los Angeles Fire Department, including 33 firemen and a Hazardous Materials Team, were called about 9:15 p.m. to the 5900 block of Barton Avenue, immediately west of Paramount Pictures and Hollywood Forever Cemetery, said Erik Scott, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

She had recently traveled back from Gabon, Africa, and out of an abundance of caution, fire officials responded as if the woman had contracted the Ebola virus, said Peter Sanders, public information director for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Firefighters later described the woman's symptoms, including fever, to a licensed medical doctor employed by LAFD, who concluded that it was "extremely unlikely" that she had contracted Ebola, said Sanders. "Once we talked to our medical director everything de-escalated pretty quickly," he said.

The woman was, however, in serious condition, and was taken to Cedars Sinai hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"I was like, somebody got shot or it was a movie," said Daniel Elster, who lives down the street from the ill woman. Nervous from all the hubbub, Elster, 29, said he would not be sleeping at his home tonight.

The virus spreads by direct contact with body fluids, such as blood, of an infected human or other animals. This may also occur through contact with an item recently contaminated with bodily fluids. Spread of the disease through the air between primates, including humans, has not been documented in either laboratory or natural conditions.

African hazmat team

Semen or breast milk of a person after recovery from EVD may carry the virus for several weeks to months. Fruit bats are believed to be the normal carrier in nature, able to spread the virus without being affected by it. Other diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, meningitis and other viral hemorrhagic fevers may resemble EVD. Blood samples are tested for viral RNA, viral antibodies or for the virus itself to confirm the diagnosis.

The disease was first identified in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, and the other in Yambuku, a village near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name. EVD outbreaks occur intermittently in tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1976 and 2013, the World Health Organization reports a total of 24 outbreaks involving 1,716 cases. The largest outbreak to date was the epidemic in West Africa, which occurred from December 2013 to January 2016 with 28,657 cases and 11,325 deaths. It was declared no longer an emergency on 29 March 2016.


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