A Burmese man who is being tested for the Ebola virus has been diagnosed with two types of Malaria, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.
The young man was identified as a possible Ebola carrier by a screening team in Rangoon’s Mingalardon International Airport when he arrived with a high fever and fatigue on Wednesday. He and four other passengers have since been quarantined in Rangoon’s Waibagi Hospital.
The man is currently being treated for malaria and has shown some improvement, officials told state media on Friday, but the diagnosis does not preclude Ebola and test results for the virus are still pending.
“We cannot say it is not Ebola yet. Two types of malaria were found. We are treating him for malaria,” said Dr Toe Thiri Aung, deputy director of disease control under the Ministry of Health, speaking to DVB by phone on Friday.
After working in west Africa for several months, the man was travelling back to Rangoon along with four of his colleagues. All five are still in the hospital’s isolation ward.
The patient’s medical samples are being tested in a World Health Organisation (WHO) facility in India, as Burma lacks the equipment necessary for diagnosis.
Burma’s Ministry of Health established screening checkpoints at international airports, seaports and border crossings after a recent outbreak escalated in west Africa. An epidemic that is believed to have begun in late 2013 was not detected until March 2014.
The WHO has reported 2,473 suspected cases and 1,350 deaths resulting from the outbreak as of 18 August 2014, making it the worst Ebola outbreak since the disease was first discovered in 1976.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever, or Ebola virus disease, can be transferred via contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected animal. There is no known cure for the disease, which has an estimated fatality rate of up to 90 percent, according to the WHO.
No confirmed cases of Ebola have been reported in Southeast Asia to date.