The Center for Disease Control held a press conference today to address the first confirmed domestic case of Ebola in the United States.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas admitted a patient Monday who was exhibiting symptoms of Ebola. The patient reportedly just returned from a trip to Western Africa. The hospital released a statement confirming it was following strict isolation controls after the patient disclosed his recent travels and showed signs and symptoms of the deadly virus.
The CDC is actively working to make contact with anyone who interacted with the patient since September 19. The CDC has the authority to quarantine citizens who either show symptoms of the virus or who have come into contact with someone with the virus.
The patient reportedly left Liberia, which has struggling mightily in containing Ebola, on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20. The patient reported he had no symptoms while in West Africa. He did not exhibit any signs of the virus until September 24 causing him to seek medical treatment Sunday. The hospital promptly followed strict isolation measures and tested the patient for the virus.
The Ebola virus, according to medical professionals, does not spread during the incubation period. The average incubation period lasts between 8 and 10 days but can range from 2 to 21 days. All travelers flying out of West Africa are tested for fevers both before and after the flight.
"We [health professionals] all had been planning to look at what our next steps are if there is a confirmed case," Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson said to KTVT Monday night. "Again, we have to do the public health follow up to see what contacts, where this individual has gone since they arrived here in Dallas. There are a number of things that have to be looked at."
Thompson reminded Texans that the Ebola virus does not spread with ease and is only transmitted through contact with bodily fluids. "The key point is, if there's been no transmission, blood, secretion, any type of bodily fluids by the infected person to someone else, then that [infection] risk is low to none."
The current Ebola outbreak started in the western African nation of Guinea back in December 2013. The epidemic was not officially discovered until March 2014 and has since spread to several western African nations and the United States. The outbreak has put incredible strains on the health systems in Liberia, Guinea, and other African nations.
Liberia recently ordered all of its citizens to stay inside for 3 days to prevent further transmission of the deadly virus. The quarantine zones the country set up caused riots and stirred unrest and mistrust between the government and its people.
Doctors Without Borders urged the international community to collaborate in fighting the virus. In mid-August, the humanitarian organization claimed the Ebola outbreak was out of control and could rage on for months. Obama has since spoke publicly about the virus and authorizing the use of American troops to help in setting up treatment centers in western Africa.
The virus is still wreaking havoc in West Africa and has claimed thousands of lives. Experts contend the virus has little chance of spreading in the United States like it as in West Africa. Countries like Liberia have poor health care systems and citizens know very little about disease prevention and universal precautions.
Experts contend that Nigeria was able to stop the spread of the virus and believes it has overcome many hurdles in containing the deadly virus.
Ebola Has Inflicted and Killed Thousands
Ebola has claimed over 3,159 lives, according to CDC data as of September 30, 2014, in five western African countries. A total of 6,808 have been infected by the virus.
Ebola Infection Breakdown:
Guinea: Infected - 1103, Deaths - 668 (61% death rate)
Liberia: Infected - 3,564, Deaths - 1,922 (54% death rate)
Nigeria: Infected - 20, Deaths - 8 (40% death rate)
Senegal: Infected - 1, Deaths - 0 (0% death rate)
Sierra Leone: Infected - 2,120, Deaths - 564 (27% death rate)
United States: Infected - 1, Deaths - 0 (0% death rate)
Total: Infected - 6,808, Deaths - 3,159 (46% death rate)
*data current from the Center for Disease Control as of September 30, 2014