Yesterday on September 30th the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC confirmed that a patient has been tested positive for Ebola. The patient is currently being treated at a hospital in Dallas, Texas. This is the first case that has been diagnosed in the United States.
According to Dr. Tom Frieden, a hospital at the hospital, the patient departed Liberia on September 19th, and arrived back in the United States on the 20th of September. This patient is the first to be diagnosed with this specific strain of the disease outside of Africa.
Mr. Frieden said to reporters at a press conference that the patient did not display any symptoms when leaving Liberia or entering the United States. But on the 24th of September, four or five days later, he starting developing and showing signs of the symptoms.
The patient was in the United States visiting family in Texas. He initially sought care on the 26th of September, but was directed to go home and was not admitted to the hospital until two days after. He was put in isolation at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. Currently, the patient is still critically ill.
Mr. Frieden said that the next steps are essentially threefold. First, the patient must be cared for by providing the most effective care possible and as safely as possible to keep the chances or likelihood of infecting anyone else to an absolute minimum. Second, the care must maximize the possibility that the patient can recover.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as health officials in Texas are currently working to discover and monitor anyone who may have come in contact with the patient.
According to health officials, only someone who is sick with the Ebola disease can spread the illness. Once those people who have come in contact with the patient have been identified, they will be monitored for twenty one days after exposure to see if they develop a fever or any other symptoms.
Mr. Frieden also stated that it even though it is possible for someone who had come into contact with the patient to develop Ebola in the coming weeks, it is likely that the infection will be contained. At this point, there is supposedly zero chance that the disease was transmitted to anyone on the flight with the patient because did not display any of the symptoms when he was traveling.
Officials are unsure of how the patient become infected, but they are sure that he had come into close contact with an individual who was sick with Ebola or who had died from it.
The patient is currently staying at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he is receiving treatment. Dr. Edward Goodman, the epidemiologist at the hostpital, and a team of medical staff have had a treatment plan in place in the event that someone brought the Ebola disease to the United States. Mr. Goodman noted that the team had a meeting to prepare for such a crisis just one week prior to the patient’s arrival at the hospital.
Officials at the facility are evaluating the different options for treatment right now, such as experimental therapies, which have shown to be successful in other patients.
Both the Texas Department of State Health Services and the CDC have performed lab tests that are supposed to be extremely accurate in detecting traces of the Ebola virus.
Dr. David Lakey, a commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services, the organization’s lab has a specially trained team to deal with any high risk patients, such as the one that was just admitted. The department does not have any other suspected cases of Ebola cases in Texas at this time.
The director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, Zachary Thompson, emphasized to residents that the agency was doing all that they could do to protect the safety of the community and that they will be working in close proximity with the local health officials and the CDC to examine and track all potential contacts of the patient.
In a statement released by the hospital on Monday, an unnamed patient was being tested for Ebola and had been put in strict isolation given the patient’s recent travel history and medical symptoms. The facility stated that it was making the effort to keep its staff, doctors, and patients safe.
The next day, the hospital disclosed that the symptoms that the patient pointed to Ebola, a virus that has already killed over 3,000 people in West Africa and have infected several Americans who have traveled to that area.
According to the CDC, twelve other people in the United States have been tested for Ebola since July 27th. These people tested negative for the virus.
Four aid workers from the United States have become infected while doing volunteer work in West Africa. These individuals have been treated in special isolations units in hospitals Georgia and Nebraska. A doctor from the United States who was exposed to the virus is undergoing observation in a facility at the National Institutes of Health.
Even though there are only four isolation units in the United States, the CDC insists that any hospital can safely treat someone infected with Ebola.
Ebola symptoms can include vomiting, muscle pain, fever, and bleeding. These symptoms can show up as late as 21 days after the initial exposure to the disease.
According to Jason McDonald, a spokesperson for the CDC, health officials use two primary methods to decide whether or not an individual should be tested for the virus.
The first step is to determine if they have traveled to the West African region. The second determinant is whether the individual has been in close proximity to other individuals who have been exposed.
Health officials in the United States have been preparing for the arrival of an infected traveler since the summer. Hospitals have been trained in the steps to control the infection and to prevent the disease from spreading in health facilities. Individuals boarding plans in the outbreak regions are checked for symptoms and fever, but symptoms can begin as late as twenty one days after exposure. The virus is not contagious until symptoms begin to show up, and must be in close contact with infected bodily fluids.
Mr. Frieden stated that there may be several potential contacts of the patient who need to be monitored. However, he compared that with the 900 contacts that were monitored in July when an infected patient transmitted the virus to Lago. This reinforced his confidence in the ability of health officials to contain the disease.