MS Risk Blog

First Ebola Case Confirmed Outside of Africa

Posted on in United States title_rule

The first case of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) diagnosed on US soil has been confirmed in Dallas, Texas. Officials confirmed Tuesday that the unidentified male patient is being kept in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and have pledged to contain the virus that has already killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa.

It is believed that the man contracted the virus in Liberia prior to traveling to the US to visit family members nearly two weeks ago. He arrived in the US on September 20. Symptoms of the virus became apparent on September 24, with the patient being admitted to hospital on the 26th and placed in isolation on September 28. While previously US aid workers have come back to the US, after catching Ebola in West Africa, this is the first case of a patient developing the virus on US soil. It is believed that the patient was not in Liberia as part of on-going efforts to combat the spread of the virus there.

Health officials have disclosed that they are currently identifying all people who came into contact with the unnamed patient while he was infectious however officials at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have cautioned that since he was not sick on the plane, he was unlikely to have infected other travellers as Ebola is not contagious until the patient begins to display symptoms, which can include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding. According to CDC chief Tom Frieden, “at this point there is zero risk of transmission on the flight. The illness of Ebola would not have gone on for 10 days before diagnosis…he was checked for fever before getting on the flight and there is no reason to think that anyone on the flight that he was on would be at risk.” Anyone to have had contact with the patient will be monitored for a period of 21 days. According to Mr Frieden, currently there are only a “handful” of people, mainly family members, believed to have come in contact with the patient while he was sick.   While measures, such as checking temperatures, have been implemented at airports and border crossings across the affected countries in West Africa, this case has demonstrated that patients deemed Ebola-free when leaving an infected region may not necessarily be free of the virus, but may only be not displaying any symptoms at the time.

Latest figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that the world’s largest outbreak of Ebola has infected more than 6,500 people across five West African countries, killing 3,091 since the start of this year.

The beginning of the West Africa outbreak has been identified as a two-year-old boy in Guinea who became sick with EVD in December 2013. While experts do not know how the child came down with the virus, some believe that he may have come in contact with an infected fruit bat, which are the natural hosts for the virus. Since then, the disease has spread rapidly, primarily affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In July, Ebola was confirmed in Nigeria when a dual US-Liberian citizen, who flew on a pane from Liberia to Lagos, died days later. The outbreak there killed eight and infected 20 people, however WHO officials have indicated that while Nigeria is not yet Ebola-free, the spread of the deadly virus has been contained, with no new confirmed cases reported since the beginning of September. One patient was also confirmed to have Ebola in Senegal, however like in Nigeria, the spread of the disease has been contained. The last confirmed case of Ebola reported in Senegal occurred on 28 August.


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