The first case of Ebola in the US has been confirmed by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Test results received today came back positive for Ebola from a patient who had sought treatment at Texas Health Presentation Hospital in Dallas over the weekend.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the organization will be hearing from the hospital shortly in order to "provide the most effective care as possible, as safely as possible, to keep to the absolute minimum the possibility that anyone would become infected."
The unnamed patient had been in Liberia, leaving the country where Ebola has killed more than 1,830 people on September 19 and arriving in the US the following day. According to Frieden, officials are not certain how the patient contracted the hemorrhagic fever that first showed up in Guinea back in December and has claimed more than 3,000 lives over the past 10 months.
Frieden emphasized that the patient had shown no symptoms when he traveled to the US. He did not exhibit symptoms until about four days later, on Wednesday, September 24. He arrived at the Texas hospital on the following Sunday.
"[Ebola] does not spread from someone who doesn't have symptoms," Frieden emphasized during a press conference on Tuesday evening, explaining that only someone sick with Ebola can spread the disease. A person cannot transmit Ebola until they exhibit symptoms of the virus, which include fever, hiccups, diarrhea, and vomiting.
The current task for public health officials will be to identify all individuals who have come in contact with the patient from the time he became symptomatic. These contacts will then be tracked for 21 days — the incubation cycle length for the strain of the virus gripping Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea — to ensure they do not contract the illness.
"The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country," Frieden said. "But there is not doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."