First Case of Ebola To Hit The U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed today, through laboratory tests, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.
The person fell ill on Sept. 24 and sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on Sept. 26. After developing symptoms consistent with Ebola, he was admitted to hospital on Sept. 28. Based on the person’s travel history and symptoms, CDC recommended testing for Ebola. The medical facility isolated the patient and sent specimens for testing at CDC and at a Texas lab participating in the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network CDC and the Texas Health Department reported the laboratory test results to the medical center to inform the patient. A CDC team is being dispatched to Dallas to assist with the investigation.
“Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities,” said CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “While it is not impossible that there could be additional cases associated with this patient in the coming weeks, I have no doubt that we will contain this.”
Here’s What We Know About The Patient
The patient came from Liberia. He left Monrovia September 19th and arrived in the United States September 20th. Frieden says it’s possible the patient could have spread the disease, although not very many people would be at risk. “It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual … could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here,” Frieden said.
Frieden has been clear that no one on the flight to the united States would have been at risk because the patient wasn’t sick yet when he flew. The patient had been staying with family and not at a hotel, and in the affected countries in West Africa, family members, caregivers and health care workers who tend to patients have the highest risk of infection.
“We have identified all the people who could have had contact with the patient while he was infectious,” Frieden said. “It is only someone who is sick with Ebola who can spread the disease.”
And Ebola only spreads in bodily fluids, not in the air. “Ebola is a virus. It’s a virus that is easy to kill by washing your hands. It’s easy to stop by using gloves and barrier precautions,” Frieden said. “The issue is not that Ebola is highly infectious. The issue with Ebola is that the stakes are so high. People are infectious with Ebola when they are sick.”