The first Ebola case to be diagnosed in the United States has been discovered by the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The patient has been in "strict isolation" since Sunday and it appears they contracted the virus while traveling in West Africa. Their blood was submitted to the Centers for Disease Control for testing at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and the diagnosis was confirmed just after 1 p.m. Officials plan to rigorously identify and monitor all those who came in contact with the patient while they were infectious.
"This is not Africa," said Zachary Thompson, director of the Dallas County Health and Human Services, "We have a great infrastructure to deal with an outbreak."
In a press conference announcing the news, the CDC revealed that the patient recently visited Liberia and had no symptoms (and was therefore not infectious) while entering the United States on September 20. Four days later, the patient started to develop non-specific symptoms and went to the hospital on September 26. The patient was sent home and then returned to the hospital on September 29, when he was placed in isolation.
According to the CDC's Tom Frieden, the patient likely had close contact with someone who was infected or had died from virus while in Liberia. The patient, who remains unidentified, is apparently not an American citizen but was visiting relatives who live in the United States.
Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids, easily passing between patients and their caretakers, but is not an airborne virus. Thus far, it has killed at least 3,000 people in Africa. Three other Americans have already been discharged after being treated in the States.
Frieden remained confident that the "imported" ailment would be swiftly contained and prevented from spreading. "There is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here," he said, but "It is certainly possible someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks." Officials say the number of people who may have been in contact with the patient while he was infectious is a "handful."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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