A Dallas hospital patient has tested positive for the Ebola virus, the first case to be diagnosed in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms.
Update, 4:50 p.m. Tuesday: The patient, a man, left Liberia on Sept. 19 and arrived in the U.S. to visit family in Texas on Sept. 20, CDC officials said at a press conference. He showed no symptoms when leaving Liberia or when he arrived in the U.S.
Last Wednesday, he started showing symptoms. He sought care on Friday and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas on Sunday. The hospital announced Monday night that the patient was being tested for Ebola. A blood sample arrived at a state of Texas lab this morning. A sample also arrived at the CDC.
The patient is "critically ill," CDC officials say.
There are no other suspected cases in Texas at this time, state officials said.
Texas Health Presbyterian won't share many details about the patient, other than he's "under intensive care" and is being seen by specialists. Hospital officials are tracking down family members who may have been in contact with the patient. The hospital is well-equipped to treat the patient, federal officials say.
A CDC team is on its way to Texas to assist with the investigation.
The CDC says it doesn't believe anyone on the patient's flight to the U.S. is at risk for contracting Ebola because he wasn't infectious at that time. So federal officials aren't recommending that people who were on the same plane undergo monitoring.
Dallas city officials say that the Dallas Fire Rescue EMS crew that transported the patient Sunday to the hospital "took all safety precautions and has been quarantined according to CDC and Dallas County Health guidelines."
“Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading," said Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC director. "While it is not impossible that there could be additional cases associated with this patient in the coming weeks, I have no doubt that we will contain this.”
The patient checked into Texas Health Presbyterian's emergency room last Friday and was evaluated and underwent lab tests. He was sent home, like many patients who enter the hospital with similar symptoms.
The hospital reports the patient reported diarrhea.
The patient is now in an isolated unit, a properly sealed room with windows so medical workers can see him. Doctors and nurses who treat him are wearing protective clothing, including impenetrable gowns, gloves, surgical masks and shoes.
Watch the CDC press conference here:
From PBS NewsHour: This is how you get Ebola, as explained by science
Update, 4:05 p.m. Tuesday: A CDC press conference in Atlanta is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Central, when officials will discuss the latest.
Separately, a press conference will be held at 5:30 p.m. Central in Dallas at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the patient is hospitalized.
The patient has not been identified, and is being kept in isolation.
Texas Health Presbyterian issued a statement Monday night saying it had admitted a patient into “strict isolation” who was being evaluated for Ebola based on symptoms and recent travel history. The CDC has sent a team to Dallas.
Health officials told Dallas County Commissioners Tuesday that they've launched an investigation to reach out to people who had been in contact with the patient.
The Dallas County Health and Human Services director said earlier today he wanted to caution residents not to overreact. The CDC says you can't get Ebola through the air, water or food. The CDC says you can get Ebola from touching the blood or body fluids of a person who's sick with Ebola or has died from the virus. You can also get Ebola from touching contaminated objects, like needles, or from touching infected animals, their blood or other body fluids, or their meat, the CDC says.
Original post, Monday night: A hospital patient in Dallas is being tested for possibly contracting the Ebola virus.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas issued a statement Monday night saying it has admitted a patient into “strict isolation” who is being evaluated for Ebola based on symptoms and recent travel history.
“The hospital is following all Centers for Disease Control and Texas Department of Heath recommendations to ensure the safety of patients, hospital staff, volunteers, physicians and visitors,” Texas Health says in the statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipates preliminary results on Tuesday, the hospital says. The CDC has sent a team to Dallas in case the patient tests positive for Ebola.
“We want to caution Dallas County residents not to overreact," Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson said. “The transmission of this particular virus has to take place in terms of bodily fluids and at this point there is no indication that there is any type of outbreak in Dallas County.”
No Ebola cases have been confirmed so far in the U.S., but several aid workers, including a Fort Worth-trained doctor, have been treated for the disease after contracting it in West Africa. Since there’s no cure for Ebola, doctors can only provide supportive care -- fluids and pain relief before symptoms become severe.
Baylor infectious disease expert Dr. Cedric Spak says Texas Health Presbyterian should be capable of handling an Ebola case.
“The difference between a rural hospital in West Africa and a 21st-century U.S. hospital is so massive," he said. "We have excellent hospitals here. If there’s an individual in Dallas who’s unfortunate to have Ebola, his best chances of surviving are to be at a hospital in Dallas.”
Health officials told Dallas County Commissioners Tuesday that they've launched an investigation to reach out to people who had been in contact with the patient. Spak says if the patient tests positive for Ebola, epidemiologists will have to track down details like airline flight information and layovers.
“And that’s really where national organizations like the CDC because they’re able to coordinate that kind of a sequential investigation to see where the individual had been," Spak said.
The CDC says it’s received many calls from health departments and hospitals about suspected cases of Ebola. So far, all samples sent to CDC have tested negative. Some patients who have been put in isolation wards have instead been found to have malaria.
Ebola has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa and infected a handful of Americans who have traveled to that region.
The CDC reports that 12 other people in the U.S. have been tested for Ebola since July 27. Those tests came back negative.
The National Institutes of Health recently admitted an American doctor exposed to the virus while volunteering in Sierra Leone. Four other patients have been treated at hospitals in Georgia and Nebraska. The Fort Worth-trained doctor, Kent Brantly, contracted Ebola while serving as a medical missionary in Liberia. He was flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where he was treated and has recovered from Ebola.
According to the CDC, Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus.
Here's what the CDC says on its website about Ebola in the United States: "CDC has received many calls from health departments and hospitals about suspected cases of Ebola in travelers from the affected countries. These calls have been triaged appropriately and samples have been sent to CDC for testing. All samples sent to CDC have tested negative for Ebola."
The CDC adds: "Ebola poses no substantial risk to the U.S. general population. CDC recognizes that Ebola causes a lot of public worry and concern, but CDC’s mission is to protect the health of all Americans, including those who may become ill while overseas. Ebola patients can be transported and managed safely when appropriate precautions are used."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The CDC reports:
The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and the first Ebola epidemic the world has ever known — affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Although the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low, CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent this from happening. A small number of cases in Nigeria have been associated with a man from Liberia who traveled to Lagos and died from Ebola, but the virus does not appear to have been widely spread.
CDC is working with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization, and other domestic and international partners and has activated its Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate technical assistance and control activities with partners. CDC has also deployed teams of public health experts to West Africa and continues to send public health experts to the affected countries.
The CDC also reports:
CDC has staff working 24/7 at 20 Border Health field offices located in international airports and land borders. CDC staff are ready 24/7 to investigate cases of ill travelers on planes and ships entering the United States.
CDC works with partners at all ports of entry into the United States to help prevent infectious diseases from being introduced and spread in the United States. CDC works with Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, state and local health departments, and local Emergency Medical Services staff.
While possible, it is unlikely that an infected person who traveled from an area with Ebola to the United States on an airline would spread the disease to fellow passengers. First, relatively few of the approximately 350 million travelers who enter the United States each year come from these countries. Secondly, most people who become infected with Ebola are those who live with or care for people who have already caught the disease and are showing symptoms. CDC and healthcare providers in the United States are prepared for the remote possibility that a traveler could get Ebola and return to the U.S. while sick.