A crew member taken off a ship at the Port of New Orleans after a stop in Liberia did not have the Ebola virus, state officials said Tuesday.
Proper procedures were followed in the handling of the incident, which occurred last weekend, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness director Kevin Davis said.
An assessment determined that there was no risk of Ebola exposure because the crew member had not left the ship when it docked in Liberia 18 days prior to its arrival in New Orleans.
Liberia is one of three West African countries stricken with Ebola. There’s a 21-day maximum incubation period for the virus.
“It was handled well,” Davis said. “All he had was a 99 degree temperature and no other symptoms.”
Earlier in the day, U.S. Sen. David Vitter turned the political Election Day spotlight on the incident, questioning the handling of the crew member and wondering among other things why no one was quarantined.
The Louisiana Republican said it’s the Obama administration’s “responsibility to take absolutely every precaution to ensure that Louisianians are not put in danger.”
Vitter said congressional offices had been notified by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about “the sick passenger on a ship originating from Liberia.”
The ship had left Greece for Equatorial Guinea, where cargo was unloaded. The empty vessel then made a stop in Liberia before departing for Louisiana.
Vitter also said the CDC indicated that the patient was not considered to be “of any concern for Ebola.” He sought answers from the CDC on how other “passengers on board” were handled and what protocols are in place to protect Louisiana health care workers.
According to Davis, the state health agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, the CDC and local emergency officials were in “constant communication” throughout the situation.
“The protocols were all followed, all worked,” Davis said.
“Now we have done this about four or five times,” Davis said. “It works.”
The response started Friday when the crew member reported having dizziness, a headache and a low-grade fever.
He was seen by doctors at a New Orleans-area hospital on Saturday after remaining in his room alone until his transfer to the hospital. An infectious disease specialist made the evaluation that the crew member was not at risk for Ebola.
The crew member’s temperature returned to normal the next day and he was discharged to return to the ship.