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CDC Confirms First Patient Diagnosed With Ebola in U.S.

Unidentified man at Dallas hospital developed symptoms days after flying from West Africa

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The first confirmed case of Ebola has surfaced in the United States, involving a man who recently flew here from Liberia, federal health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced late Tuesday.

The critically ill patient is receiving intensive care in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, said Edward Goodman, M.D., the hospital's epidemiologist. Experimental therapies are being discussed with his family members and his doctors.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., said at the news briefing that the man boarded a plane in Liberia on Sept. 19 and arrived in the United States the next day. The patient had no symptoms during his flight, becoming ill four or five days later. Frieden stressed there is "zero risk" of Ebola to people who shared the flight, since the virus can only be transmitted by someone suffering from symptoms. The patient first sought medical care on Sept. 26, Frieden said. Doctors admitted him to the hospital on Sept. 28 and placed him in isolation. Samples submitted to state and federal health officials tested positive for the Ebola Zaire strain Tuesday, said David Lakey, M.D., commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Public health officials are tracking down people who might have come into contact with the patient, Frieden said. Once identified, they will be monitored for fever during the next 21 days, which is the maximum incubation period for Ebola. Currently, public health officials suspect only a handful of people in Texas came into contact with the patient since he fell ill, including some family members and friends. "Our approach in these cases is to cast the net widely," to err on the side of safety, Frieden said, who also stressed that Ebola is not easily transmitted -- to become infected, a person must come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is suffering symptoms.

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