BARBOURVILLE — Barbourville Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital is currently investigating a patient with a possible infectious disease so the patient is in quarantine.
ARH released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it can confirm that the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating.
"We cannot comment on specific patient cases due to patient confidentiality," the release said. "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."
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) said in a statement that close contacts of the individual have been identified and are being monitored.
“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.”
Barbourville ARH is open and seeing patients as normal.
Any threat to the general public is being assessed, but is believed to be extremely low, according to the Kentucky DPH. Additional information will be shared as details are confirmed. At this time, a diagnosis has not been made as health officials work to complete necessary medical and laboratory testing outlined by infectious disease protocols.
Union College President Marcia Hawkins also released a statement on Tuesday.
"I have been notified by the Health Department that one of our Union College students is currently in isolation at ARH," Hawkins said. "We have been informed that there is no immediate risk to the public. However, we will take every precaution to ensure the safety of our campus community. We have not been told the identity of the student."
Hawkins said the student is undergoing tests to identify the virus.
"So far, we know that the student did not contract the Ebola virus, as has been speculated by posts on Facebook, and that it is not airborne. Also, I’ve been told that the student did not travel out of the country during the break," she said.
"We will continue to be in touch with the CDC and the State and Local Health Departments, and I will release information as it becomes available," she added. "Of primary concern at this time is the fact that one of our students has been hospitalized. Please keep the student in your prayers."
Anyone experiencing signs or symptoms of a viral illness, including fever, nausea, body aches, or lethargy, is encouraged to seek health care immediately, according to the Kentucky DPH.
DPH is following up to inform any hospital worker or close contact of the patient about symptoms to look for in case this illness turns out to be a risk to others.
Additional updates or information related to the investigation will be shared with the public as they become available, if needed.