Suspected Ebola Patient Diagnosed With Malaria: Burmese Health Ministry

By Sanay Lin 22 August 2014

RANGOON — The 22-year-old Burmese man who was tested for the Ebola virus earlier this week has been diagnosed with malaria, the Ministry of Health announced Friday.

Zin Min Oo, a sailor, was tested for Ebola after returning to Burma from West Africa, where he had worked for three months amid an outbreak of the deadly disease that has killed more than 1,350 people there. He was placed in an isolation ward at Rangoon’s Waibagi Hospital on Tuesday after arriving at the city’s international airport with “Ebola-like symptoms,” including a fever and malaise, according to Dr. Than Than Htay, the hospital’s medical superintendent.

The hospital, which specializes in infectious diseases, lacked equipment to test him for Ebola, so a sample of his blood was sent to a laboratory in India. Results are still pending.

In the meantime, separate tests conducted by the National Health Laboratory in Rangoon have shown that he was infected with two types of malaria parasites.

“The health condition of the suspected Ebola patient improved by Thursday morning after he was given appropriate malaria treatment the night before,” Dr. Tun Tin, deputy director of the central epidemiology unit, told the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Friday.

Four other sailors who were traveling with Zin Min Oo and were also placed under surveillance at the hospital were found to be healthy, the newspaper reported, citing the Ministry of Health.

Members of the ministry’s rapid response team—who have been conducting thermal-imaging checks on passengers arriving at the Rangoon airport—are “working day and night shifts on high alert following the arrival of the suspected patient two days ago,” the newspaper added.

Zin Min OO had a fever higher than 38 degrees Celsius when he landed at the airport on a Myanmar Airways International (MAI) transit flight from Thailand. He was sent to the hospital after temporarily losing consciousness.

He had worked for a Chinese shipping line for three months in Guinea and Liberia.

The World Health Organization has called the latest Ebola outbreak the deadliest in four decades. The Ebola virus is contracted by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, and it manifests early on with symptom similar to the common cold, including fever and malaise. As the disease progresses, an infected person can experience internal bleeding.