The sudden injection of a drug causing COVID-19 “may be considered a form of smallpox,” the Loyola University Health System said in a letter to patients who reported symptoms.
Even if the blood-borne virus isn’t considered a contagion, it can be a severe and potentially fatal illness that has led to “an uptick in deaths in the last few years,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both the FBI and U.S. Secret Service have decontaminated rooms believed to have come into contact with exposure, reported local CBS News affiliate WFSB.
To minimize the number of contagious patients and health workers affected by the scare, Maryland and Delaware health departments have installed “high security, indoor cooling stations” at the clinics involved and put in place “disease-detection precautions,” including masks, gowns and gloves, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. A state health department official said he expects all of the patients affected to be located within the next 24 hours.
As a precaution, patients are not being allowed to pick up prescriptions until further notice, reported The Baltimore Sun.
Pamela Sidwell, the health department’s commissioner, said in a statement: “This is one of the critical safeguards which health professionals rely on to prevent the spread of infectious disease. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure our community continues to be safe.”
Loyola University Health System has 16 emergency rooms and 14 sub-acute and inpatient centers. The health system has had a record number of healthcare workers infected with Hepatitis B and C, the local CBS affiliate reported, and one employee died from the Hepatitis E virus, according to data collected by the nonprofit Nurses Weekly.