Atlanta (CNN) — A patient being treated at a Dallas hospital is the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, health officials announced Tuesday.
The unidentified man left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At that time, the individual did not have symptoms. “But four or five days later,” he began to exhibit them, Frieden said. The individual was hospitalized and isolated Sunday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.Source: CNN
I can’t really say that I am surprised at this diagnosis as I cautiously speculated on this very thing months ago. I am surprised, however, that it took this long for a case to occur here. It only took the right circumstances to fall in line, and it appears that is the case.
With the incubation period, it’s possible for someone to contract the virus in a country currently having an outbreak and travel with no symptoms of the sickness at all. If the person isn’t showing any signs, there is no way to know whether or not the virus is fighting with their immune system.
Listening to the news, I heard all kinds of jabber. Some journalists were questioning cutting off flights from West Africa to try to fight the virus. That’s like trying to close your screen door to avoid the effects of an impending tornado. When a person can board a flight from West Africa, as this gentleman did, and arrive from a non-outbreak country, how does one know whether to actively screen him for the sickness? Cutting off direct flights does not eliminate the multiple connection routes to arrive on American soil.
We’ve been told that the CDC has given hospitals a check sheet to follow to aid in the detection and isolation of anyone suspected of being sick. That plan doesn’t work if hospitals don’t follow it, and this seems to be the case here. That is my one major concern about anyone becoming sick after arriving in America.
This guy went to the hospital with symptoms, and he was given antibiotics and sent home. Even after informing them of his travel, a lack of communication led to him being allowed to be in close contact with others while he was contagious.
I hope the guy recovers quickly. I’m also hoping that medical authorities have found all that were in contact with him so they can be monitored as well. I’ve always felt that we had the medical infrastructure to deal with such an issue without it becoming widespread.
This isn’t the time to gin up unnecessary fear. However, first responders and people in the travel industry should step up their vigilance to ensure that anyone that is sick can get the necessary care without exposing others to this virus.