The Brooklyn man that electrified hypochondriacs across the East Coast with the possibility that he might have been infected with Ebola probably just had good old run-of-the-mill malaria. Boring!
Eric Silverman, 27, who traveled to Sierra Leone in April for a four-month project to do agriculture and construction work, developed a high-fever and gastrointestinal pain around two weeks after he returned to New York. Despite the relative banality of those symptoms, Silverman was promptly quarantined at Mount Sinai, where he remained in an isolated glass box for more than 72 hours while a hysterical public desperately clawed for hand sanitizer. Since Ebola is transmitted through fluids, all those subway air tests would have been useless.
Tests are still being run to confirm his diagnosis, but an infectious disease doctor told Silverman yesterday that all evidence continues to point to malaria, an unpleasant but relatively common malady that symptomatically resembles Ebola, but is much less deadly and easier to treat. Silverman had malaria in February after working in Sierra Leone, and doctors suspect the disease stayed dormant in his liver since then.
“I’ve been taking a lot of medicine, and so that kind of might have interfered, and so they couldn’t spot any malaria in my blood work, but it could still be there,” Silverman told CBS New York.
Despite his taxing ordeal, Silverman, who will begin a master's program at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs next month, still plans to return to Sierra Leone again.