Woman Who Fell Ill on Pentagon Bus Does Not Have Ebola, Health Officials Say

The woman who fell ill aboard a Pentagon bus Friday morning does not have Ebola, health officials say.

A group of passengers on a Pentagon shuttle bus were held for about four hours after the woman became sich. She was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated in relation to Ebola. A joint statement from Arlington Public Health and Fairfax Public Health was released at about 5 p.m. stating that the woman does not have Ebola.

"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 read in part.

Two passengers who spoke to News4 say the woman boarded the bus around 9:10 a.m. and got sick in the bus' bathroom. She then got off the bus and vomited in the south parking lot in the area of lanes 17-19.

The woman allegedly indicated that she had recently traveled to West Africa, according to a statement released by the Pentagon.

Medical crews checked out the passengers after the bus had already left the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and traveled several miles away into Southeast D.C.

A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the woman, who has not been publicly identified, works for Total Spectrum, whose website says it is a lobbying and public relations firm. Managing Director Steve Gordon told The Associated Press the Pentagon had contacted him, and he said the woman had not been out of the Washington area. 

Officials notified the FBI and were checking the woman's background and possible travel to West Africa.

The military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to comment publicly by name, said the woman was on a shuttle bus taking guests to a ceremony at the Marine Barracks in the District for Gen. Joe Dunford, who is taking over as commandant of the Marine Corps.

"People were surprised," said Col. David LePan of the U.S. Marines, who was aboard the bus. "You get here [and] you don't expect something like that to happen. So we were suprised to hear that, but understanding all of the concerns that have been expressed about Ebola and things like that, [it's] understandable that they were taking precautions, and we sort of got caught up in that."

The woman is not believed to be a part of the group that had planned to attend the ceremony.

The woman got off the shuttle before it left the Pentagon lot and then vomited. Passengers say no one came in contact with the woman, but one person used the bus' bathroom after the woman got sick in it.

Pentagon Police officers responded to the area and then contacted the Arlington County Fire Department.

The woman was initially taken to Virginia Hospital Center, but did not leave the ambulance there. She was then transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital.

Hazardous materials crews were called in to clean the scene and keep people from entering the area.

"We decontaminated three Arlington County firefighters," said Mike Reilly of the Fairfax County Fire Marshal's Office. "We had four of our hazmat team members do that. So when those four members were done, we then decontaminated those four members. So a total of seven members.... And then once that was done, we went ahead and decontaminated Arlington County's medial unit."

Officials with both Arlington emergency services and the Department of Defense said they acted "out of an abundance of caution" to the situation, as local emergency services personnel grapple with concerns over the potential spread of the Ebola virus.

"A patient has presented to the Inova Fairfax Hospital Emergency Department for evaluation in relation to Ebola," a statement from the hospital read in part earlier Friday. "The patient was immediately isolated and is undergoing triage in consultation with the Fairfax County Health Department."

After the incident, the bus left the Pentagon before first responders learned of the woman's possible travel to West Africa. By the time they learned that, the bus had reached the District, where it was stopped about four miles away from the Pentagon, on Virginia Avenue SE.

"At first, it seemed like an overreaction, but the more I thought about it, I realized this is important," said Eric Dent, a passenger on the bus.

Dent said 22 people, including the driver, were aboard when it was detained. The passengers were moved from that bus and isolated on a second bus.

News4's Mark Segraves reported the second bus was brought in for any passengers who may have needed to use the bathroom.

The passengers were detained for several hours. An epidemiologist team from the D.C. Department of Heath evaluated the passengers and gathered information on each person before releasing them.

All pedestrian and vehicular traffic was suspended around the Pentagon's south parking lot for much of Friday. Traffic around lanes 7-23 were said to remain restricted until further notice. The Corridor 2 entrance to the Pentagon was also closed, officials said.

In the District, police also closed two blocks of I Street SE between 8th and 6th street SE, where the passengers were evaluated by a team of epidemiologists from the D.C. Department of of Health.

Associated Press writer Matt Barakat contributed to this report.

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