A Kentucky hospital locked down its emergency room for nine hours Saturday, after a patient arrived covered with sores and doctors feared a potential threat to the public's health.
But late in the evening, the hospital announced the patient tested positive for two strains of adult chicken pox.
The patient arrived at the emergency room of Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville covered in spots, said hospital spokesman Jeremy Cocanougher. They were far larger and more numerous than traditional chicken pox, which alarmed the hospital's doctors.
They learned that patient recently traveled overseas, raising their level of concern, Cocanougher said.
The hospital locked down the emergency room around 1:30 p.m.
The uncertainty dragged out for hours, as the hospital reported it did not have definitive information "that would either rule in or rule out that there is a risk to the community."
Other emergency room patients and visitors were contained as the patient was tested, and ambulances were diverted to neighboring counties.
Later Saturday, Gwenda Bond, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the patient likely did not pose a public health risk. She said the hospital was following its precautionary protocols in dealing with the patient.
"We at this point don't believe there is any threat to the public," Bond told The Associated Press.
In a statement, the hospital said it was working with state and local health officials and coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said the center received a call from the state health department seeking help on Saturday. She said the CDC was providing technical support.
The hospital lifted the lockdown just before 11 p.m., shortly after the patient tested positive for two stains of adult chicken pox, which Cocanougher described as a rare combination with unusual symptoms.