Dead man 'did not have Ebola virus'
Published 22/08/2014 | 00:11
An Irish engineer who died at home after returning from working in Sierra Leone had not contracted the Ebola virus, health chiefs have confirmed.
Dessie Quinn, 43, was being treated for malaria after returning two weeks ago from the west African country and was found dead in bed in Co Donegal by a friend in the early hours of yesterday.
Medics ordered blood tests following a post-mortem investigation into his sudden death amid fears he may have been suffering from the incurable Ebola.
The Quinn family said they had been kept in the dark and were not notified of health chiefs' concerns before a statement on the precautionary investigation was released to national media in Ireland yesterday.
The agency said: "The Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed that laboratory test samples for an individual, who had recently returned from Africa, has proved negative for Ebola virus.
"Infection control procedures, which had been put in place as a precautionary measure, will now be stepped down.
"The HSE expressed its condolences to the individual's family and friends for their loss."
Mr Quinn, whose girlfriend and five-year-old son live in Dublin, was working with telecoms firm KN Network Services in the west African country.
He had returned to his family home in Doorin, Mountcharles, Donegal, to spend time with relatives and friends.
Although he was being treated for malaria on his return, he was not an inpatient in hospital and was well enough to be out socialising with friends in the evenings before he died. He had gone to bed at a friend's house on Wednesday night after complaining of feeling unwell.
Parish priest Father Adrian Gavigan said the family were given no information about fears over the Ebola virus before a statement was issued to national media.
He said he went back to the family home after hearing the reports on the six o'clock news.
"It was told to the public, it was not told to the family," Fr Gavigan said.
"Truthfully I was angry. When I heard this report I went back down to the family home for the very reason that you'd wonder what are they thinking when they hear this.
"The family told me that they had no word at all from the Health Service Executive that this is what is being investigated. They could see I was pretty angry."
Fr Gavigan added: "I am amazed by the approach. It is distracting for the family and it worsens their grief."
The HSE said it maintained close contact with the Quinn family following the death and only issued the statement over Ebola on the back of media reports.
The agency did not confirm if it spoke to family members about precautionary tests.
In a statement it said: "The HSE was in contact with some family members from the outset of the tragic situation yesterday.
"The story broke in the media just before 6pm yesterday at which point the HSE had to make a public statement on the matter, given the urgency and nature of a public health issue such as this."
The World Health Organisation has put the number of people infected with the deadly virus at 2,473. Some 1,350 have died since the disease was identified in Guinea in March and spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
Ebola has no cure and rigorous quarantine measures are used to stop its spread, as well as high standards of hygiene for anyone who might come into contact with sufferers.
Symptoms of Ebola appear as a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
According to the WHO, this is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and, in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
The effects of the disease normally appear between two and 21 days after infection.
It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through person-to-person transmission. O utbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
The WHO says the disease can be passed between people by direct contact - through broken skin or mucous membranes - with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
Mr Quinn's body was kept isolated in the mortuary in Letterkenny General Hospital until the lab results came back.
It is understood it will now be released to the family.