First Case of Ebola Diagnosed in US

[Content Note: Illness.]

Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that a man in Texas, currently a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, has the Ebola virus, making his the first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State Health Services, Presbyterian Hospital and Dallas County Health and Human Services all participated in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. CDC Director Thomas Frieden related the information that the individual who tested positive had traveled to Liberia.

The person left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20 with no virus symptoms. Frieden said that it was four or five days later that the patient, who is believed to be male, began developing symptoms and was ultimately admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sunday, September 28.
So, two things to note: He did not contract the virus in the United States, and he was not symptomatic when traveling, so it is extremely unlikely he infected anyone else during his travels. Ebola is not airborne, nor is it passed via water supplies; one must come in contact with an infected person's body fluids in order to contract the virus.

(Here is the CDC's Q&A page on Ebola.)

Because there is a possibility the man's family members may have contracted the virus, they will be monitored for symptoms for the next three weeks. Frieden says he has "no doubt that we'll stop this in its tracks in the US." Let's hope so.

The one concerning thing is that the man "first sought medical help on Friday, and was treated and sent home. Ebola was not recognized."
Frieden said the early symptoms of Ebola, like fever and nausea, can easily be mistaken for other illnesses. But he added that public health experts have for months been urging doctors and nurses to take a travel history on anyone who shows up with such symptoms and to be on the alert for Ebola in anyone who has been to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

With worsening symptoms, the man sought care again on Sunday, and was then admitted to the hospital in Dallas and placed in isolation.
I hope that this case will underscore to healthcare providers the importance of documenting patients' travel histories.

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