Ebola in America: New Concerns
By:   //  Health & Science, US News

by Carol Thompson

The first confirmed case of Ebola has been reported in Texas, and a second suspected case is being monitored, creating a flurry of worry and fear in Americans.

New reports have revealed that Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia, who is in the states visiting family in Dallas, had contact with over a dozen others since first contracting the disease.

Texas Governor Rick Perry says a handful of school-aged children who had contact with Duncan are being monitored at home.

According to CNN, Duncan, who  had Ebola but didn’t know it walked into a Dallas emergency room September 26. Although his symptoms could have indicated Ebola among other things, no one at the hospital asked him if he had recently traveled. He was sent home with antibiotic only to return two days later. Duncan is currently in serious condition in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan had flown from Liberia, one of the areas sharply affected by the disease, to the states Sept. 19 and arrived Sept. 20. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention had issued a warning to Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to the countries with severe outbreaks, including Liberia, however, there appears to be no known travel restrictions or precautions imposed on those traveling to America from the hotspots.

Mai Wureh, Duncan’s sister, refutes CNN’s the claim that her brother did not disclose his travel, stating that when asked for his Social Security number Duncan said he didn’t have one because he was from Liberia.

According to HuffPost, Dr. Mark Lester confirmed Wednesday that a nurse asked Duncan on his first visit whether he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa, but that “information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team.”

Anyone who has had contact with the patient, including emergency room staff, will be under health officials’ observation for 21 days. If any of those being monitored show symptoms, they’ll be placed in isolation. Those in contact with Duncan include the three ambulance members who transported Duncan to the hospital.

Dallas health officials say they are closely monitoring a possible second suspected case. All who have been in close contact with the man diagnosed are being monitored as a precaution, Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, said in a morning interview with WFAA-TV.

“Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient,” he said. “So this is real. There should be a concern, but it’s contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment.”

Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC. The disease is not contagious until symptoms begin and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.

According to the CDC, symptoms include:

  • Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Recovery from Ebola depends on the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, the agency noted.

Image: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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