Ebola Is Diagnosed in Texas, First Case Found in the U.S.

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C.D.C. Announces First U.S. Ebola Case

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, said the infected individual came to the
United States from Liberia.

Video by Associated Press on
Publish Date September 30, 2014.

A man who took a commercial flight from
Liberia that landed in Dallas on Sept. 20 has been found to have the
Ebola virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on
Tuesday. He is the first traveler to have brought the virus to the
United States on a passenger plane and the first in whom Ebola has been
diagnosed outside of Africa.

As the disease has swept across West
Africa, many health experts said it would be only a matter of time
before it reached the United States. Hospitals and health departments
around the country have been preparing for it, and a number of false
alarms have occurred. But this time, the case is real.

The man,
who was visiting relatives in the United States, was not ill during the
flight, health officials said at a news conference Tuesday evening.
Indeed, he was screened before he boarded the flight and had no fever.
Because Ebola is not contagious until symptoms develop, there is “zero
chance” that the patient infected anyone else on the flight, said Dr.
Thomas R. Frieden, director of the disease centers. Ebola is spread only
by direct contact with body fluids from someone who is ill.

Continue reading the main story

Key Dates for Man Infected With Ebola

The man who has been found to have Ebola showed no symptoms when he boarded his plane in Liberia.

A team from the C.D.C. is being dispatched to
Dallas to help trace any contacts who may have been infected, including
family members, health care workers and others with whom the patient
spent time in Dallas. Health officials in Texas said they had already
begun that process. Dr. Frieden said the family and community contacts
were few, no more than a handful. But he said it was possible that
family members who were with the man while he was ill would turn out to
be infected.

Contact tracing involves identifying people who might
have been exposed to the patient during the time he was infectious, and
then monitoring them for symptoms every day for 21 days — the full
incubation period of the disease. Most people develop symptoms within
eight to 10 days of being exposed. Anyone who starts running a fever or
having symptoms is then isolated and tested for Ebola. If the test is
positive, that person is kept in isolation and treated, and his or her
contacts are then traced for 21 days. The process is repeated until
there are no new cases.

Describing these methods as “tried and true,” Dr. Frieden said, “I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.”

Dr.
Frieden declined to disclose flight information or to say whether the
patient is an American citizen. He said the man was not a health worker,
and officials had no idea how he had become infected.

More Ebola Coverage

The man did not get sick until about Sept. 24,
several days after he arrived. He is being treated at Texas Health
Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, and is critically ill, Dr. Frieden
said. He said there was no reason to move the patient to another
hospital, noting that any hospital in the United States capable of
isolating patients for other infectious diseases could safely handle an
Ebola case. Doctors and the patient’s family are discussing whether to
try experimental treatments, Dr. Frieden said.
The
hospital’s epidemiologist, Dr. Edward Goodman, said: “We have had a
plan in place for some time now for a patient presenting with possible
Ebola. Ironically, we had a meeting the week before of all the
stakeholders who might be involved. We were well prepared to care for
this patient.”
Feeling ill, the man first
sought medical help on Friday, and was treated and sent home. Ebola was
not recognized. Officials did not say where that initial visit took
place. Dr. Frieden said the early symptoms of Ebola, like fever and
nausea, can easily be mistaken for other illnesses. But he added that
public health experts have for months been urging doctors and nurses to
take a travel history on anyone who shows up with such symptoms and to
be on the alert for Ebola in anyone who has been to Guinea, Liberia or
Sierra Leone.
With worsening symptoms, the
man sought care again on Sunday, and was then admitted to the hospital
in Dallas and placed in isolation. Blood samples arrived at the disease
centers on Tuesday, and tested positive for Ebola. A state lab in Texas
also tested samples, and got positive results.

Dr. Frieden briefed
President Obama by telephone on Tuesday afternoon about the case,
explaining what the White House described as the “stringent isolation
protocols” being used to treat the patient and efforts to trace the
patient’s contacts to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading.

Dr.
Frieden told the president that the C.D.C. had been prepared for an
Ebola case in the United States, according to an account of the call
distributed by the White House, “and that we have the infrastructure in
place to respond safely and effectively.”

Julie Hirschfeld Davis contributed reporting from Washington.

 – NYTimes.com

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