ARLINGTON, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — A woman who became ill in the Pentagon parking lot does not have Ebola, Virginia public health authorities said Friday, ending a daylong scare that forced the temporary quarantine of military members going to a Marine Corps ceremony in Washington.
Around 5 p.m. Friday, Arlington and Fairfax County public health officials released a statement confirming that the woman does not have the deadly virus.
“Based on the public health investigation, which included the travel history of a woman who became ill this morning in a Pentagon parking lot, and on questioning of her by medical staff, medical authorities are confident that she does not have Ebola,” the statement said.
Officials tell WNEW that the Virginia Department of Health contacted the CDC today to determine whether Ebola testing was warranted. Doctors at Inova determined that testing for Ebola was not necessary.
The woman told officials she worked for Total Spectrum, a lobbying and public relations firm. Its managing director, Steve Gordon, said in an interview that the woman had not been out of the Washington area.
Around 9:10 a.m., the woman began vomiting in the Pentagon parking lot while on a bus tour, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson. The woman indicated she has recently traveled to Africa.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Crosson said that “out of an abundance of caution,” all pedestrian and vehicle traffic was stopped across 17 lanes of the huge parking lot. A building entrance was temporarily closed, he said.
The Arlington County Fire Department was called to the scene. The woman was then transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital and kept in isolation.
The bus the woman was on continued on to Capitol Hill. The bus was stopped on Virginia Avenue and the other passengers and the driver were being isolated on a second bus. Virginia Avenue was closed down while officials investigated.
WNEW Senior Correspondent Mark Segraves reports that all 22 passengers have since been cleared and released from the bus.
Officials notified the FBI and were checking the woman’s background and possible travel to West Africa.
According to defense officials, seven Pentagon officers who assisted the woman were being isolated and might be kept in a tent at the Pentagon overnight.
This scare comes as Obama administration officials said a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from a Liberian man who died from Ebola is self-quarantined on a Caribbean cruise ship and is being monitored for infection.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Friday that the woman had shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 19 days.
The government is working to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship, the Carnival Magic, completes its cruise. The White House said the State Department was working to secure their transportation home.
An administration official who was not authorized to be named and requested anonymity said the cruise ship had stopped in Belize but officials there would not allow the passenger to leave the vessel.
Psaki said that when the woman left the U.S. on the cruise ship from Galveston, Texas, on Oct. 12 health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.
One official said it’s believed the woman poses no risk but health-care authorities want to get her off the cruise ship and back to the United States out of an abundance of caution.
There have been no restrictions placed on other passengers aboard the ship.
Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement that the woman, a lab supervisor, remained in isolation “and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew.”
“We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board,” the statement said. The CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.