Health officials have announced the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. The patient is currently being treated at a Dallas hospital.
The man, who remains anonymous, left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20. He didn’t have symptoms upon arrival in the U.S., but began to develop them around day four of his arrival on U.S soil. Health officials don’t think the other passengers on the flight with this man are in jeopardy of contracting the disease, as the patient was not exhibiting signs or symptoms at that time. He has, however, been in contact with people, (including children) before he was placed in isolation. They are urging healthcare workers to be diligent and thorough in their screenings for Ebola and make a point to ask anyone who exhibits flu-like-symptoms, their recent travel history. If a patient admits to traveling to or from West Africa, immediately isolate them and test them for the Ebola virus.
Health officials have refused to release any details about how the patient contracted Ebola, how he is being treated or even his nationality. He has been placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Edward Goodman, one of the physicians caring for the man, told reporters “I can say he is ill. He is under intensive care.”
The CDC is investigating the people the man came in contact with before he was placed in isolation and Texas Governor Rick Perry will hold a news conference on Wednesday to address further questions.
The early symptoms of the disease can mimic other diseases, such as influenza, malaria, meningitis and typhoid fever and include weakness, muscle pain, headaches and sore throat.
The CDC has implemented a screening process in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria requiring all passengers be assessed for fever symptoms, then are not permitted to fly if authorities are unable to rule out Ebola. But the risk remains in cases such as this one, as the patient had not yet exhibited symptoms. Manifestation may not appear for 2 to 21 days after infection.
According to the World Health Organization there have been 6,553 confirmed cases of the virus and over 3,000 people in West Africa have died after contracting the disease. Many of the deceased were stricken while taking care of other Ebola victims.
As a health care professional, what else do you think can be done to stop the spread of Ebola to the U.S?