Canadian Doctors Struggle To Discover Congolese Woman's Disease

HAMILTON, Canada-Health officials at Henderson General Hospital in Hamilton, Canada, are scratching their heads and readjusting their microscopes.

They do not know what is making a Congolese woman sick, but they do know it isn't the Ebola virus as previously thought.

The 32-year-old woman traveled from Democratic Republic of Congo to Toronto two weeks ago and was brought to the hospital February 4. She had the symptoms of a hemorrhagic fever and considering her travel history, doctors went into an emergency contingency plan and secluded the patient. They immediately suspected Ebola, which was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the virus was discovered in 1976.

However, tests soon showed that the woman was not ill with the Ebola or Lassa hemorrhagic fevers. She has been diagnosed with low-grade malaria--a disease that is part of most Africans' everyday life.

Tests have taken away fears that the woman may have infected up to 70 people at the hospital before she was isolated. Doctors now think the woman is not a public threat. They have ruled out all known level 4 diseases--the most infectious viruses that require the most security from accidental contamination.

The woman, whose identity still has not been released, is near death. Doctors do not know if they will be able to diagnose what is making her ill.