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US Dallas's hospital diagnoses first patient with Ebola


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the first case of Ebola in a critically ill patient diagnosed in a U.S. hospital, officials announced Tuesday.

The patient -- who has been isolated since his symptoms were recognized -- is an unnamed man in intensive care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Hospital workers noted his case because of his symptoms and recent travel history. It is not known if he has infected others, although CDC officials say his contacts are being traced.

The man left Liberia Sept. 19 and arrived in the USA the next day, but had no symptoms when leaving Africa or arriving here, said Thomas Frieden, CDC director. The patient became sick Sept. 24 and he sought care two days later. He was admitted to the hospital Sept. 28. Frieden did not reveal the man's nationality, but said he came to the USA to visit relatives.

Frieden said there is no danger of the sort of widespread outbreak seen in West Africa.

"This is the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the US and the first strain of this Ebola diagnosed outside of Africa," Frieden said. "I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country. It is certainly possible that someone who has contact with this patient could develop Ebola. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."

Ebola patients are only contagious once they begin showing symptoms, such as fever, diarrhea and vomiting, Frieden said.

Someone with these symptoms could infect healthcare workers, such as working in an emergency room. However, the virus is only spread through contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or vomit, says Brett Giroir, CEO at Texas A&M Health Science Center, an intensive care specialist.

Ebola does not spread through the air, like measles or the flu, said David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Because the man was not sick while on the plane or in the airport, Frieden said he's not worried that others on his flight will become sick. He said that health officials are following only a "handful" of contacts, including a few family members and friends. "I have no doubt that we will stop this in its tracks," Frieden said. But as long as the epidemic is spreading out of control in West Africa, "we have to be on our guard."

Infectious disease experts agreed with Frieden that Ebola is unlikely to spread very far in the USA, however, because of stringent infection control measures in place at American hospitals. Frieden said that there have been five cases of patients with similar hemorrhagic fevers in the USA, including Lassa fever and Marburg virus, and none of them infected anyone else.
Source: usatoday

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