Update: U.S. health officials have found no traces of Ebola on the New Orleans bound cargo ship Marine Phoenix but according to the CDC one crewmember did test positive for malaria, which is noncontagious and spread through mosquitoes.
Original: A possible yet unlikely Ebola scare today in New Orleans after a foreign-flagged ship which recently called in Africa arrived with at least one critically ill crewmember onboard.
U.S. health officials were alerted to the situation Wednesday morning and a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they would have U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Department of Health, and EMS crews on-hand to meet vessel near New Orleans and transport the ill crewmember to a local hospital for evaluation and care.
The CDC said that the vessel’s itinerary did include a recent call in Matadi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the chances of the crewmember having Ebola was thought to be exceedingly low. The CDC added that it will also be evaluating two other crewmembers reported to be showing minor symptoms of illness.
“The vessel’s itinerary did include Matadi, DRC, in addition to other ports, but there is no evidence to suggest that the crew members traveled to, or had any contact with anyone from the remote inland region of DRC where Ebola cases are occurring,” according to the CDC.
The vessel is believed to be the Liberian-flagged MV Marine Phoenix. AIS data from MarineTraffic showed that the most recent port of call was in Panama.
A report from WWLTV.com says that the critically ill crewmember has already been taken from the ship and transferred by ambulance to the to West Jefferson hospital. The report added that according to a health official the crewmember was suffering from symptoms generally associated with malaria.