Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas is ground zero to contain, prevent Ebola outbreak in U.S.

by Staff |

DALLAS (Christian Examiner) – Authorities at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say a second individual is being closely monitored for potential infection with the Ebola virus.

Meanwhile, at least five school children, from four different schools, are under home watch as officials try to calm fears following the announcement that Thomas Eric Duncan is the first patient in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the deadly disease. Duncan was named by his sister, Mai Wureh, in an interview with the Associated Press, but the name of second patient has not been published.

Others who have been under observation include three paramedics of the ambulance crew who transported him.

Details have been emerging in press conferences conducted by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta as well as statements released by the Dallas County Health Department.

Dallas County epidemiologists, Jessica Smith and Wendy Chung, detailed Duncan's travel in a press release published today.

Their account indicates that Duncan flew from Liberia on September 20 to visit family in the United States. According to Smith and Chung, he was symptom free until four days later (and not contagious until then). At the emergency room he received a prescription for antibiotics and left without doctors realizing he was infected with the Ebola virus. Two days later, after his symptoms developed further, he returned to Presbyterian Hospital at which time he was admitted, and two days after that, Sept. 28, was placed in isolation and tested for Ebola.

Officials have been tracking down contacts Duncan made from the time he began showing symptoms until he was confined at TCPH.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been working with TCPH as well as Dallas County and Texas state health authorities in working to contain the spread of the virus. In a statement, director Tom Frieden said that medical personnel should be alert to patients exhibiting fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding and check travel histories of such patients.

Likewise, he offered reassurances during a press conference yesterday.

"The bottom line here is that I have no doubt we will control this importation, or this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country, Frieden said.

"It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual, a family member or other individual, could develop Ebola in the coming weeks," he conceded. "But, there is no doubt in my mind we will stop it here."

"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," he said.