A man has been diagnosed with Ebola virus disease in Dallas, Texas.
The man diagnosed with the illness on 30 September is the first in the United States, and the first person ever diagnosed outside Africa with the Zaire species of Ebola virus, which has killed more than 3,000 people in Africa in the current outbreak. A handful of Ebola patients have been treated in the United States during the current outbreak after being diagnosed with the disease in Africa.
The patient travelled from Liberia to the United States on a flight that landed on 20 September, began experiencing symptoms on 24 September, sought care on 26 September and was admitted to an isolation ward at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on 28 September. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta and a state health department lab in Austin, Texas, both diagnosed Ebola in samples from the patient.
CDC director Thomas Frieden said that the patient was in the United States visiting family and did not appear to be involved in the Ebola outbreak response in Africa.
Frieden said that public-health officials began tracing the contacts of the individual today, and do not think that passengers who were on his flight are at risk of infection with Ebola. Frieden said that officials have identified “several family members and one or two community members” who had contact with the patient after he became sick and so therefore may have been exposed to the virus. Officials will monitor them for 21 days, the period of time in which they will show symptoms if they have been infected with Ebola.
“Ebola doesn’t spread until someone gets sick, and he didn’t get sick until four days after he got off the airplane, so we do not believe there was any risk to anyone who was on the flight,” Frieden said.
“I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country,” Frieden said. “It does reflect the ongoing spread of Ebola in Liberia and West Africa where there are a large number of cases.”
Frieden said further that doctors were considering providing experimental treatments to the patient such as injections of blood or serum from other Ebola survivors.
“That’s being discussed with the hospital and family now and if appropriate, they would be provided to the extent available,” Frieden said.
Few other details about the patient were provided, though officials did say that he is “ill and in intensive care”.