A man traveling from Liberia in West Africa to Dallas, Texas has been diagnosed with Ebola, becoming the first patient to present with the disease on US soil.
CDC and local Texas health officials emphasized in a news conference today that they anticipate that the disease will be readily contained.
The first Ebola case has been diagnosed in the United States, but a top health official said today there is “no doubt… we will stop it here.”
Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the patient left Liberia on Sept 10 and arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20. The patient sought medical help on Sept. 27 and was put in isolation on Sept. 28, Frieden said.
Tests confirming the Ebola diagnosis came back today. The White House said President Obama was briefed about the patient by Frieden.
Frieden stressed that the patient was not sick on departure from Liberia or upon arrival in the U.S. and the disease can only be contracted by someone exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
Frieden said he was confident there would not be an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.
“There is no doubt in my mind we will stop it here,” he said.
While it is right to be concerned, it’s important to remember that Ebola is a “bloodborne pathogen,” and is not spread through the air. Solid infection prevention protocols should contain the illness.
Officials on Tuesday said they are confident that standard procedures for controlling an infection can contain Ebola in the United States. The C.D.C. is sending experts to Texas to trace anyone who may have come in contact with the patient while he was sick with symptoms.
Doctors across the country are being reminded to ask for the travel history of anybody who comes in with a fever. Patients who have been to West Africa are being screened and tested if there seems to be a chance they have been exposed.
It helps that Ebola does not spread nearly as easily as Hollywood movies about contagious diseases might suggest. In 2008, a patient who had contracted Marburg – a virus much like Ebola – in Uganda was treated at a hospital in the United States and could have exposed more than 200 people to the disease before anyone would have known what she had. Yet no one became sick.
It looks like President Obama is being briefed on this subject, but for some this offers little comfort, considering how many briefings he has recently chosen to ignore.
— Ed Henry (@edhenryTV) September 30, 2014
CDC officials have refused to say if the infected patient is an American citizen, raising concerns from many who are making a connection between the situation in Dallas and the President’s recent lack of leadership on counterterrorism and border security.
When directly asked if the patient is an American citizen, Frieden would only say, “He is visiting family who live in this country. Do we have any other questions in the room?
I wish I had bought stock in a local biotech firm, which was a nine-person research operation until this outbreak occurred.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said today it would provide its expertise and as much as $42.3 million to help San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical accelerate development and testing of ZMapp, the biotech’s experimental Ebola drug.
With just nine employees, Mapp Bio lacks the resources to respond to the Ebola crisis unfolding in Western Africa, co-founder and CEO Kevin Whaley said at an event last week in San Diego. The biotech, founded in 2003 to address the public health needs of mothers and children in developing countries, was looking for government help, Whaley said.
In a statement today, the federal health agency said it would provide $24.9 million to Mapp Bio through an initial, 18-month contract. The company will make a small amount of ZMapp for early stage clinical safety studies and for non-clinical animal studies needed to demonstrate its safety and effectiveness.
The effort is intended to advance ZMapp toward FDA approval, and includes subject-matter expertise and technical support to accelerate drug manufacturing and to address regulatory and other non-clinical concerns. The health agency’s assistant secretary for preparedness and response can extend the contract up to a total of $42.3 million.
And as we officially enter the month of Halloween tomorrow, the CDC has just published timely guidelines for funeral directors to address Ebola-laden remains.
The three-page list of recommendations include instructing funeral workers to wear protective equipment when dealing with the remains since Ebola can be transmitted in postmortem care. It also instructs to avoid autopsies and embalming.
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