Ebola virus arrives in US

645X363 - No Companion - Full Sharing - Additional videos are suggested - Policy/Regulation/Blogs

U.S. health officials on Tuesday confirmed the first case of the deadly Ebola virus in the United States.

An unidentified man with the virus is being held in isolation at a Dallas hospital. The man arrived in the United States on Sept. 20 and initially sought care for Ebola-like symptoms on Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday and officially diagnosed with Ebola on Tuesday afternoon following a blood test. The man, whom officials said was visiting relatives in the United States, traveled from Liberia.

The diagnosis confirms fears that someone with Ebola would eventually arrive without warning in the United States. Travel is still permitted between the U.S. and countries affected by the epidemic.


The outbreak of the disease has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa, and the CDC has warned it could infect more than 1.4 million by early next year without swift intervention.

The first case diagnosed in the United States is likely to increase fears about its spread in this country.

Four American aid workers caught the disease while caring for patients in West Africa, but their infections were known to federal officials before they came to U.S. hospitals for treatment.

The Ebola epidemic — unprecedented in modern history — has posed a unique challenge to the U.S. government.

It took weeks of pleading from CDC officials and international aid workers for the White House to ramp up its response.

President Obama committed on Sept. 16 to send more than 3,000 troops to Africa and significantly improve the logistics of the response effort.


The administration wants to spend roughly $1 billion to support its work. Republican appropriators approved the request with conditions last week.

Half of the money will not be deployed until the Pentagon provides more details on the mission, a GOP aide said.

Lawmakers responded to the Dallas diagnosis with calls for new government action, including measures to stop infected patients at U.S. airports.

“Today’s CDC announcement shows the need for active screening for Ebola at U.S. points of entry. The CDC should act to implement immediately,” Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill Strengthen CBP regulations to reduce opioid deaths House panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill MORE (R-Ohio) tweeted.

Democrats urged Congress to approve any funds necessary to fight the virus and fund research that could lead to a cure.

“A strong response to the Ebola outbreak starts with a strong investment in the CDC and other public health agencies working on the frontlines of this epidemic,” Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWe need a voting rights workaround Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits Two more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers MORE (D-Iowa) said in a statement. “It’s critical to stop the dis-investment in the development of vaccines and treatments, by restoring funds lost to austerity cuts and inflation at [National Institutes of Health].”

Members of the Texas congressional delegation expressed concern for the patient and said they are receiving briefings on the case.

“The seriousness of this virus and the ease with which it may be contracted makes intense vigilance in the monitoring of local contacts critical,” said Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessTexas Republicans condemn state Democrats for response to official calling Scott an 'Oreo' Americans have decided to give professionals a chance Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (R-Texas), a doctor, in a statement. Federal health officials said they are turning their attention to Texas to prevent an outbreak.

The CDC is sending a team of disease detectives to the state to track down people who came in contact with the patient. Those contacts will be monitored for several weeks to ensure they are not infected.

Ebola is a rare virus that had never been diagnosed outside of Africa before the Dallas case. The disease is a hemorrhagic fever that presents with flu symptoms and causes massive internal bleeding later in its progression. Transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, the virus kills roughly half of its victims.

Texas officials emphasized that no additional Ebola cases are suspected at this time, though CDC Director Tom Frieden said the Dallas patient could have passed along the virus to a “handful” of contacts.

“It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual ... could develop Ebola in the coming weeks,” Frieden told reporters at a press conference. “But,” he added, “there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it there.”

Frieden sought to tamp down fears that the man could have passed Ebola on to other airline passengers on Sept. 19 and 20 even as he signaled the CDC intended to be tight-lipped with information.


He said the agency would not provide any information on the patient’s flight, and did not announce any plans to notify passengers on the flight.

Frieden said there is “zero risk of transmission on the flight” because the patient was not exhibiting symptoms at the time.

The patient was staying with family members in Dallas, not a hotel, they said. CDC officials did not say whether the man is a U.S. citizen.

Frieden said the patient did not appear to have been involved in caring for Ebola patients in West Africa.

Ronald Waldman, a medical doctor specializing in infectious disease and global health at George Washington University, said there should be "no concern whatsoever" of an outbreak in the U.S.

Despite some media reports, Waldman said there is no risk for passengers who traveled on the airplane with the man who diagnosed with Ebola.


"I think that where there could be cause for concern, and where there should be cause for concern, is the fact that this is an outbreak that's ravaging uncontrolled in three countries," he said. "So, yes, Congress should be concerned."

Sarah Ferris contributed.

This story was posted at 4:56 p.m. and updated at 9:05 p.m. and 10:30 a.m.