CDC confirms first case of Ebola in US

Dallas patient entered US from Liberia September 20

CDC director Tom Frieden September 30, 2014. (CBS)
CDC director Tom Frieden September 30, 2014. (CBS)

DALLAS (AP) — Federal health officials have confirmed that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola.

The case announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control is the first Ebola case diagnosed in the United States. Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say the patient is being kept in isolation.

The patient, a man who left Liberia September 19 and arrived in the US on September 20, had no symptoms when he left Liberia, CDC Director Tom Frieden said.

Frieden said the patient came to the U.S. to visit family and has been hospitalized since the weekend. State health officials said no other cases are suspected in Texas. Frieden said if a patient is not showing symptoms, he or she cannot spread the disease.

The timeline

On September 24, the patient began to develop symptoms, and on September 28 was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

A man walks up the stairway leading to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. A patient in the hospital is showing signs of the Ebola virus and is being kept in strict isolation with test results pending, hospital officials said Monday. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A man walks up the stairway leading to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. A patient in the hospital is showing signs of the Ebola virus and is being kept in strict isolation with test results pending, hospital officials said Monday. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Frieden said the patient was likely only in contact with a handful of other people after the time he began to show symptoms.

Anyone who has had contact with the man will be monitored for 21 days, and if they show symptoms, will be placed in isolation.

‘We will stop it here’

The CDC’s priority, Frieden said, is to treat the patient, maximize his chances for recovery, and find all people who could have had contact with the patient while he was infectious.

INFOGRAPHIC: information provided by CDC, images from CIA World Fact Book

“The bottom line here is that I have no doubt we will control this importation,” said Frieden. “I have no doubt we will stop it here.”

“While we don’t know how this individual became infected, they undoubtedly had contact with someone sick with Ebola, or who died with it.” Officials said it does not appear that the patient was involved with response efforts to Ebola when he became infected.

Other cases 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 12 other people in the U.S. have been tested Ebola since July 27. Those tests came back negative.

Hospital officials said in a statement that the latest patient’s symptoms and recent travel indicated a possible case of Ebola. The virus has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa and infected a handful of Americans who traveled to that region.

Presbyterian Hospital officials say they’re following CDC recommendations to keep doctors, staff and patients safe.

The National Institutes of Health recently admitted an American doctor exposed to the virus while volunteering in Sierra Leone. Four other patients have been treated at hospitals in Georgia and Nebraska.

Diagnosis protocol

Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus.

Health officials use two primary guidelines when deciding whether to test a person for the virus — whether that person has traveled to West Africa and whether he or she has been near friends or relatives or other people who have been exposed to the virus, said CDC spokesman Jason McDonald.

Since the summer months, U.S. health officials have been preparing for the possibility that an individual traveler could unknowingly arrive with the infection. Health authorities have advised hospitals on how to prevent the virus from spreading within their facilities.

People boarding planes in the outbreak zone are checked for fever, but that does not guarantee that an infected person won’t get through. Ebola is not contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.

 

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