DALLAS, Texas – The first case of Ebola has reached the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
The patient was hospitalized and isolated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on Sunday, and tested positive for the disease, the CDC said. He flew from Liberia to the United States on Sept. 19, started showing symptoms four days later, then sought medical care on Sept. 26, according to doctors at Texas Health.
The CDC also said the man is visiting family in the U.S., and at this point, local public health officials have identified anyone who may have come in contact with him. Health officials will monitor these individuals daily for 21 days, and then isolate them if they show any signs of symptoms.
Health officials stress that Ebola is extremely contagious, but is only spread by the blood and bodily fluids of a person showing active symptoms; it is not spread through the air like a common cold or influenza.
"The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country,” said Thomas Frieden, CDC director. “It is certainly possible that people who had contact with this individual, a family member or other individual, could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. but there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."
Therefore, the CDC said anyone on flights with this patient coming from West Africa would not be infected, because the patient was not showing any symptoms during flight.
Doctors with Texas Health said the hospital is functioning as normal and other patients are not at risk.
“I`m not at liberty to discuss the patient`s condition, but I will say the patient is communicating, he is expressing hunger for example,” said Dr. Edward Goodman, with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. “We feel we treating the patient very closely, and we have a very attentive staff.”
As of Tuesday, this Ebola epidemic in West Africa has killed more than 3,000 people.