GOP rep: 'Don't overlook' Ebola patients' travel histories

Texas Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessHouse Dems to mull bills to overturn Trump ObamaCare actions Overnight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower GOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules MORE (R) said Wednesday that doctors should check whether patients have visited Ebola-stricken countries when they perform checkups in light of the first confirmed U.S. case of the deadly disease.

A Dallas resident who is a male, unnamed by health officials, was diagnosed with Ebola after traveling from Liberia to the U.S. last month.

Burgess said during an appearance on CNN Wednesday that he was concerned by reports the man was sent home from his first visit to the hospital without being properly diagnosed with Ebola because doctors proscribed him antibiotics intended to address other types of health issues.

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"It is troubling and, of course, we don't know the details of the visit and with patient privacy protections it's not likely we'll learn a lot," he said. "But, yes, it is concerning and certainly the takeaway for anyone who's practicing ER medicine right now is, boy that travel history in a … patient is extremely important and don't overlook it."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has said that there is no risk of catching the Ebola virus from passengers who shared the commercial airline flight from Liberia with the first confirmed U.S. patient.

Burgess said Wednesday the diagnosis of the first U.S. case of Ebola was a "serious situation," even though officials have downplayed the threat to the broader public thus far.

"I am worried and I have been for several months," he said.

"I will say to the credit of the CDC, they've done a good job of keeping me and my office up to date really since midsummer when they sent their first 30 workers over to Western Africa," Burgess continued. "But make no mistake, it is a serious situation. This is the first person who has been diagnosed in this country, but … this person did not actually become infected in this country. And, of course, now the issue that has us all concerned is, will there be a case of someone diagnosed in the United States who actually became infected as a result of patient contact in the United States. That's what's sort of pending at this point."

Burgess said people who have come in contact with the Texas Ebola patient in the last couple of weeks will be subject to "a pretty long period of" surveillance.

"If no one in 21 days has shown evidence of the disease, then that's a pretty good sign," he said. "But anyone who then does show evidence of having a fever or a fever associated illness is going to have to be under some pretty close scrutiny until it's either confirmed or denied that they have the disease."