- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed today that a case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the United States. The patient did not exhibit symptoms on leaving Liberia, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in Dallas, Texas on September 20. The patient sought care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on September 26.
- Because of the patient's travel history and symptoms, the hospital followed CDC guidelines, immediately isolating the patient and sending specimens to the CDC and a Texas laboratory that participates in the CDC's Laboratory Response Network for testing. A CDC team was dispatched to the hospital on Tuesday morning.
- The CDC emphasizes that there is "all the difference in the world between the US and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading." According to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, while it is "not impossible" that there could be additional cases associated with this particular patient in coming weeks, "I have no doubt that we will contain this."
According to a press release from the CDC, the agency has been actively preparing for the possibility of the arrival of the disease in the United States. Steps that have been taken include:
- Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
- Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
- Providing recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
- Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
- Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners
Local officials are working to identify any individuals who came into contact with the patient, but emphasize that they are prepared to prevent transmission of the disease. The CDC also emphasizes that Ebola is not transmitted by casual contact or through the air, but only through contact with bodily fluids. The illness has an average incubation period of eight to 10 days and the CDC recommends monitoring exposed individuals for symptoms a full 21 days.
Want to read more? You may enjoy this story about how Emory University Hospital in Atlanta prepared for the two Ebola patients it has cared for.