The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Texas health officials confirmed on Tuesday that an individual who recently returned from Liberia to the United States has tested positive for the ebola virus and is now under medical care at a facility in Dallas.
The identity of the patient has not been released publicly, only that the individual did travel from Liberia, where the disease has devastated local populations, to Dallas over a week ago but only began experiencing symptoms days after arriving.
According to the CDC:
The person fell ill on Sept. 24 and sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on Sept. 26. After developing symptoms consistent with Ebola, he was admitted to hospital on Sept. 28. Based on the person’s travel history and symptoms, CDC recommended testing for Ebola. The medical facility isolated the patient and sent specimens for testing at CDC and at a Texas lab participating in the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network. CDC and the Texas Health Department reported the laboratory test results to the medical center to inform the patient. A CDC team is being dispatched to Dallas to assist with the investigation.
The CDC acknowledged that the announcement was likely to raise concerns among the American public, but Dr. Tom Frieden, the agency's director, said people should be aware that containing the disease is something that medical personnel across the U.S. are well-equipped to handle.
“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. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities,” Dr. Frieden said. “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.”
Several ebola patients who contracted the disease in west Africa have already been treated in the United States, but this is the first person to diagnosed after arriving and who travelled undetected while likely infected.
Though this documented case in the U.S. is likely to garner significant attention, global public health experts have been sounding the alarm for months over the outbreak that has been ravaging Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. According to figures cited by the United Nations on Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of ebola in those countries has now reached over 6500, resulting in more than 3000 fatalities. As part of its effort to help the World Health Organization and other medical agencies and NGOs combat the disease, the world body today announced establishment of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), the first time it has established a specific mission as part of an emergency health response.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reportedly confirmed that a case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the United States.
According to NBC, a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas had been put into strict isolation "based on the patient’s symptoms and recent travel history." Federal health officials later confirmed the presence of the virus.
The agency plans to hold a press conference at 4:30 PM Central Standard Time.