Deadly Ebola Virus Reaches America. Now What?
Health experts are scrambling to follow the first diagnosed case of Ebola in America. The patient is a man who traveled from West Africa to Texas 11 days ago.
"An individual traveling from Liberia has been diagnosed with Ebola in the United States," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
The unidentified man is critically ill and has been isolated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since Sunday.
Doctors say he had no symptoms while traveling and only began feeling sick four or five days after arriving in the U.S. They are now tracking down family and friends who may have had close contact with him while he was physically ill.
"That's what the Dallas Health Department is doing right now, disease detection work, who's been exposed, monitoring them," Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said.
Officials say the man became ill last Wednesday after arriving in Dallas from Liberia. But what's concerning is the fact that he was turned away from a U.S. hospital last Friday. And it wasn't until his second visit that doctors learned he had come from West Africa.
SIM USA, the American ministry whose missionaries contracted Ebola in Liberia, reacted Tuesday to this latest case with the following statement.
"We are sorry to learn of the confirmed case of Ebola in Dallas. This person did exactly the right thing - report to a hospital. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people of West Africa have little or no option of a clinic or hospital to seek help," SIM USA President Bruce Johnson said.
In the meantime, CBN's Operation Blessing remains on the ground in Liberia, providing supplies and working with area churches to teach people about prevention and treatment.
This is the largest Ebola outbreak the world has seen with more than 3,000 people dying across Africa so far.
American troops have broken ground for a field hospital, and mobile Ebola labs should be up and running in Liberia this week.
Meanwhile, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assuring Americans it will prevent the spread of Ebola in the U.S.
"I have no doubt that we'll stop this in its tracks in the U.S. But I also have no doubt that - as long as the outbreak continues in Africa - we need to be on our guard," Frieden said.
He acknowledges that it was possible someone who has had contact with the infected man could develop Ebola in the weeks ahead.
"But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here," he said.