On Tuesday U.S. health officials said the first patient was diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus in the country. The patient had been after flying from Liberia to Texas. The Ebola outbreak has been ravaging West Africa and can spread globally.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told reporters on Tuesday that the patient sought treatment six days after arriving in Texas on Sept. 20. He said there was likely no threat to any passengers who had travelled with the patient. Frieden said a handful of people, mostly family members, may have been exposed to the patient after he fell ill.
Two days after arriving in the U.S. the patient was admitted to an isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Frieden described the person as a visitor to family in the country.
Dr. Frieden said, “It is certainly possible someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. I have no doubt we will stop this in its tracks in the United States. The Texas Department of State Health Services said it was working with the CDC, the local health department and the hospital “to investigate the case and help prevent transmission of the disease. The hospital has implemented infection control measures to help ensure the safety of patients and staff.”
Frieden said that CDC and other health officials were discussing whether to treat the Ebola patient with an experimental drug for the virus, without specifying which one might be considered. Treatments from Mapp Biopharmaceutical and Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp have been used to treat a small number of patients so far in the outbreak.
Ebola symptoms appear between two and 21 days after infection. An infected person can escape detection, allowing them to travel. Ebola cannot be spread through the air but only through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, diarrhoea and tears.