A Texas man just back from West Africa has been confirmed as having the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the U.S.
Authorities with the Centers for Disease Control revealed the finding Tuesday, two days after the unidentified patient arrived at a Dallas hospital with suspicious symptoms.
Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas put the man into “strict isolation” and sent a blood specimen to the state public health lab for testing.
The CDC said results show the man has the deadly disease which has been linked to more than 3,000 recent deaths in Africa. According to the World Health Organization, there have been more than 6,500 cases confirmed in Africa, with Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone among the hardest hit.
Dr. Christopher Perkins with the Dallas County health department told reporters that the Texas man didn’t start showing symptoms until he arrived home.
“We know at this time this person was not symptomatic during travel but became symptomatic once arriving here and being home for several days,” said Perkins, according the Dallas Morning News. “So that decreases the threat that might be to the general population.”
CDC officials are scheduled to release more details within the hour.
The CDC has a team enroute to North Texas to help health officials re-trace the man’s contacts since he has been back in the states.
Ebola is highly contagious and deadly, but only spread through contact with bodily fluids. Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson spent most of his day trying to calm the fears of North Texans.
“It is easier to get the flu than it is to get the Ebola virus,” Thompson told KTVT-TV. “You have to get it through secretion, blood, that type of transmission. So this is not a situation where you go to the grocery store and you get infected with the virus.”
Ebola symptoms include sudden fever, fatigue and headache. Officials said symptoms may appear anywhere from two days to three weeks after exposure.
Four American aid workers have contracted Ebola in West Africa and been evacuated to the U.S. for treatment since late July. Three of them were released after making full recoveries. A fourth patient arrived in Atlanta on Sept. 9, but spokespersons at Emory University Hospital have said privacy laws prevent the release of an updated condition. On Sunday, a U.S. doctor who had been volunteering in an Ebola clinic in Sierra Leone was brought to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland as safety precaution after he was exposed to the disease.
In past years Ebola has killed up to 90 percent of those it has infected, but officials say the death rate in the current outbreak is closer to 60 percent due to early treatment.
(Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET. This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.)
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