CDC rules out Ebola as cause of death of Bahamian patient

Authored by: Matt Maura
Source: Bahamas Information Services
Date: April 6, 2016


Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Perry Gomez (centre) addressing a press conference held Tuesday at the Ministry of Health detailing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, found that Ebola was not the cause of death in the case involving a Bahamian patient who had recently travelled to Africa. Also pictured (at left) is: Dr. Glen Beneby, Chief Medical Officer, and Mr. Marco Rolle, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health (far right).   (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)


NASSAU, The Bahamas – A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has ruled out Ebola as the cause of death, recently, of a Bahamian female.


Bahamas Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Perry Gomez, at a press conference at the Ministry of Health on April 5, 2016, said the CDC Report “confirms through conclusive testing for Ebola” that the former patient at the Princess Margaret Hospital who passed away on Sunday, March 27, 2016, “was not suffering from Ebola infection.”


Dr. Gomez continued, “This concretely rules out the possibility of Ebola as the cause of death in this case.  The Ministry of Health is grateful for the collaboration with our international partners, including the local Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Representative along with PAHO Washington team which facilitated the testing through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”


Dr. Gomez said pathological examinations will continue to determine the cause of death in the case.


“In other circumstances a post mortem would have already been done, but they could not proceed with the post mortem until we got these results and the results just took long for us to get because of other issues that arose,” Dr. Gomez said.


Those issues were as a result of health officials having “great difficulty” in getting local licensed couriers to transport the samples to the CDC.  The issues were resolved later in the week through a local Bahamian firm whose business is related to World Couriers, therefore could link up with World Couriers in Miami, and on to Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta.


One of the couriers reportedly was undergoing its recertification process and could not entertain the specimen at the time while the other does not transport specimens of any kind.


“Therefore we had to defer to a third option,” Ms. Mary Walker, Hospital Administrator at the Princess Margaret Hospital added.


The Government of The Bahamas, through the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health and their public and private partners, established a National Health Protocol to deal with significant public health threats such as Ebola once the outbreak was first announced in West Africa two years ago.


That National Health Strategy outlines the protocols local health officials must undertake to ensure the public’s health is protected regardless of what the potential infectious disease might be.


Public Hospitals Authority Managing Director, Mr. Herbert Brown, applauded the efforts of public health officials at the Princess Margaret Hospital for following the National Protocol established for dealing with potential cases of Ebola ‘to the letter.’


“Let me first of all commend the fine work of the professionals within our Princess Margaret Hospital who did an outstanding job in this matter,” Mr. Brown said. “At the end of the day, they followed the protocols in order to have this specimen taken out of the country and tested to the letter.


“I am very, very pleased with the work of our fine team,” Mr. Brown added.


Dr. Gomez said part of the hyperbole surrounding the case could have been as a result of the fact that the former patient had traveled to Africa and had returned to The Bahamas with a fever.


“However, in this case it was not an area of Africa that was affected by Ebola,” Dr. Gomez added.