A patient in a Dallas hospital has tested positive for the Ebola virus. The unnamed person had recently entered the United States by an international flight from West Africa. Although the patient did not feel ill on the flight to Dallas, he began to experience symptoms once in the United States, about four days after traveling.
Although several people who were diagnosed with Ebola while in Africa have been transported to the United States for treatment, this is the first case of a patient being diagnosed while in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the patient traveled on a flight leaving Liberia on September 19, arriving in Dallas on September 20. He began to develop symptoms on September 24, and sought care on September 26. The patient was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, September 28 and placed in isolation. The patient continues to be isolated for treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Test samples of the patient’s blood were received by a laboratory in Austin, TX at 9:00am CST on Tuesday. Results were returned at about 1:00pm the same afternoon, indicating the patient was positive for the Ebola virus . CDC laboratories confirmed the positive results.
Although it is not known exactly how the patient became infected with the disease, it is clear that he, at some point, came into contact with someone who was ill with or died from the disease.
Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC, stated in a press conference Tuesday afternoon that there is no threat to those who were in contact with the patient before he began to experience symptoms, including those who were on the same flight from Liberia to Dallas with the patient.
He went on to say that there is no threat of transmission of the virus from patients who have fully recovered from the disease, or from those who have been exposed but show no symptoms. Patients who do contract Ebola become sicker as their symptoms worsen.
Authorities at Tuesday’s press conference confirmed that the patient was critically ill and under “intensive care”, but declined to give further information about the patient’s identity, nationality, condition, or treatment, citing patient privacy concerns. Dr. Frieden did disclose that the patient was visiting and staying with family who reside in the United States.
The CDC is currently working in conjunction with Dallas local and Texas state health authorities in order to identify and contact all people who came into contact with the patient after he began to experience symptoms. Those found to have come in direct contact with the patient will be monitored for 21 days. If, within that time, they display symptoms of Ebola, such as fever and muscle aches, they will be isolated for further testing.
When asked if the patient will remain at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for treatment, Frieden was confident that it is not necessary to transport the patient to another facility. According to Frieden, any hospital which can successfully treat a patient under isolation is capable of treating the Ebola patient while preventing an outbreak of the disease.
Dr. Frieden expressed confidence that the virus will not spread in the United States. He assured, “there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here.”