CDC investigating potential infectious disease at Barbourville ARH
Officials with the state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating a possible infectious disease at Barbourville ARH Hospital Tuesday.
In a release, Appalachian Regional Healthcare officials did not specify what disease they suspect it might be.
"We cannot comment on specific patient cases due to patient confidentiality," said ARH Spokesperson Melissa Cornett.
Currently, the hospital is open and accepting patients as normal.
"Barbourville ARH is working closely with the state health department and the CDC to follow all proper recommendations and current guidelines to ensure our patients receive the best of care, and others within our hospital remain safe," said Cornett.
Union College President Dr. Marcia Hawkins released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the patient in question. Dr. Hawkins confirmed that one of the Union College students is currently in isolation with ARH and that there is no immediate risk to the public.
Dr. Hawkins added that the student did not contact the Ebola virus or travel out of the country, contrary to rumors on social media. The student's illness is reportedly not airborne. Health officials are still testing to identify the potential virus.
"We will continue to be in touch with the CDC and the state and local health departments," said Dr. Hawkins. "Of primary concern at this time is the fact that one of our students has been hospitalized. Please keep the student in your prayers."
People in the area said they were concerned when they heard the news.
"Shocking, it's just shocking because you know we have family that works over there. And you know it's shocking.. scary, very scary," said Karen Brittian, who has family members that work at Barbourville ARH.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health is assessing any threat to the general public, but believes the threat is extremely low.
“We want to assure Kentuckians we are aware of a potential infectious disease and are working collaboratively with the local hospital as well as local, regional, and federal public health authorities to determine not only a possible cause of illness, but any steps that need to be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our Commonwealth,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Angela Dearinger. “We do not believe the wider community to be at-risk and appropriate protocols were followed at the hospital to prevent exposure to other patients.”
Anyone experiencing signs or symptoms of a viral illness, including fever, nausea, body aches or lethargy is encouraged to seek health care right away. DPH will contact hospital workers and those with close contact with the patient in question to inform them of symptoms they need to look out for.