ARLINGTON, Va. (AP/WJLA) - 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.
Officials at Arlington and Fairfax counties' public health departments said in a joint statement that they were "confident the woman does not have Ebola," based on her travel history and questioning by medical officials. They said she was put in isolation at Inova Fairfax Hospital and added that medical personnel took all needed precautions - including setting up a quarantine/decontamination tent in front of the hospital.
Pentagon police shut down the Corridor 2 Pentagon entrance and a portion of the South Parking lot when the woman boarded a shuttle bus, then got off and vomited shortly after 9 a.m. Police said she told them she had recently been in West Africa. Officials temporarily sequestered personnel who went to her aid.
The Arlington County Fire Department responded with a hazardous materials team, and police cordoned off the area, treating the incident as a possible Ebola case.
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 and the Pentagon initiated infectious disease protocols.
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.
Officials notified the FBI and checked the woman's background and possible travel to West Africa.
A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the woman was on a Metro bus, and transferred to a shuttle bus taking 22 military and civilian guests to a ceremony for Gen. Joe Dunford, who is taking over as commandant of the Marine Corps.
She used the restroom and then got off the shuttle before it left the Pentagon lot and vomited. The official said it did not appear that she was invited to the ceremony and other bus passengers told ABC7 News that the woman looked as though she had gotten on the wrong bus.
According to defense officials, seven Pentagon officers who assisted the woman were isolated and those people on the shuttle bus were temporarily sequestered along Virginia Avenue.
What caused the woman to become sick was unclear. Ebola is only transmitted through direct contact with a victim's bodily fluids. There has been only one case of a person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States after travel to West Africa. Hundreds of suspicious cases have turned out to be false alarms.