Dallas Ebola patient might have infected others, including children

Ebola Virus
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 10/01/14, 03:45 pm

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other health officials said at a press conference this afternoon that a handful of school-aged children had contact with a man diagnosed with Ebola.

The patient, the first to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, was identified as Thomas Eric Duncan. He went to a Dallas emergency room Friday and explained he was visiting from Liberia. He was sent home with antibiotics, according to his sister, Mai Wureh. He returned two days later, after his condition worsened, and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Mark Lester, who works for the hospital’s parent company, said a nurse had asked Duncan whether he had been in any part of West Africa, where Ebola has killed thousands. But that “information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team.”

A day after the man’s diagnosis was confirmed, a nine-member team of federal health officials began tracking anyone who had close contact with him, including three members of the ambulance crew that transported him to the hospital and five schoolchildren.

Some of the people are members of his family, but not all, Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said. The ambulance crew members tested negative for the virus and were restricted to their homes while their conditions are monitored. The children, who attend four separate schools, apparently had contact with the man over the weekend and then returned to classes this week. But school officials said they showed no symptoms.

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

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traveled to Dallas to work with local and state health agencies to ensure everyone who came into contact with Duncan is watched every day for 21 days.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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