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First Ebola Case Found In US

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A man who took a flight from Liberia to Dallas, Texas has tested positive for the Ebola virus according to the Center for Disease control.Though there has been an Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa there is little reason to believe that, as things currently stand, there is a reason to worry about an outbreak in the US.

Unlike the flu or cold the Ebola virus is not an airborne disease. It can only be spread through contact with bodily fluids of someone infected who is having symptoms. Flights coming in and out of areas in West Africa – such as Liberia – are being screened for Ebola via temperature readings as one of the symptoms of Ebola is fever. The man who tested positive did not have any symptoms and was screened both when leaving Liberia and when arriving in Dallas.

However, the man now is suffering symptoms and is said to be “critically ill.” Though the virus is not easily spread it can often be lethal. The CDC does not believe anyone else on the flight is infected.

The man, who was visiting relatives in the United States, was not ill during the flight, health officials said at a news conference Tuesday evening. Indeed, he was screened before he boarded the flight and had no fever. Because Ebola is not contagious until symptoms develop, there is “zero chance” that the patient infected anyone else on the flight, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the disease centers. Ebola is spread only by direct contact with body fluids from someone who is ill.

A team from the C.D.C. is being dispatched to Dallas to help trace any contacts who may have been infected, including family members, health care workers and others with whom the patient spent time in Dallas. Health officials in Texas said they had already begun that process. Dr. Frieden said the family and community contacts were few, no more than a handful. But he said it was possible that family members who were with the man while he was ill would turn out to be infected.

The White House previously held off banning flights from infected areas and instead went with screenings. Now that at least one person got through the screenings undetected there may be a policy change.

The infected man was discovered to have Ebola only after he went to a doctor’s office after returning from Liberia. When he first went to see a doctor he was sent home without a Ebola diagnosis. Two days later he returned still feeling ill and was then put in isolation. The initial symptoms of Ebola are general fever and nausea which is why the CDC says it has been urging doctors to take travel histories with a special focus on Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The CDC claims the virus is contained and that, according to a CDC spokesman, they will “stop this in its tracks in the US.”

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.