WASHINGTON – Officials with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have confirmed that a Liberian man visiting family in America has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus, making it the first diagnosis of the deadly disease on U.S. soil.
In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, CDC Director Thomas Frieden explained that the unnamed individual arrived in the United States on September 20, but exhibited no symptoms of the virus. It was not until four or five days later that the man began feeling ill, and on Friday, he went to the hospital for help. He was officially admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas on Sunday, and tests were performed today that were found to be positive for the Ebola virus.
“We received in our laboratory today specimens from the individual, tested them and they tested positive for Ebola,” Frieden said. “The State of Texas also operates a laboratory that found the same results.”
The man is now on “strict isolation” to ensure that the virus is contained, but the CDC reiterated that those who were near the individual, such as on the flight to America, have nothing to fear as persons cannot spread the virus until they are actually sick. The person did not become ill until after arriving in the U.S.
“It does not spread from someone who doesn’t have fever and other symptoms,” Frieden outlined. “So, it’s only someone who is sick with Ebola who can spread the disease.”
“I have no doubt that we will control or contain this case of Ebola so it does not spread throughout the country,” he also remarked, noting that Ebola can only be spread through contact with one’s bodily fluids.
Presbyterian Hospital likewise issued a statement explaining that it “is following all federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Texas Department of Heath recommendations to ensure the safety of patients, hospital staff, volunteers, physicians and visitors.”
However, Frieden advised that for precautionary reasons, those who have had contact with the individual will be monitored for 21 days to ensure that they do not begin to exhibit symptoms, such as a fever.
Ebola has been exclusive to West Africa, with Liberia reportedly being the hardest hit. Over 3,000 people have died from the virus since its initial outbreak in March. Christian humanitarian organizations have been working in Africa to assist those that are ill, but at least two have contracted the disease themselves while seeking to help others.
Dr. Kent Brantly and aid worker Nancy Writebol arrived back in the United States last month after they were diagnosed with Ebola while serving in Liberia. The two have made a complete recovery after continuing their treatment in American hospitals and are crediting their survival to the grace of God.
“I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life and I am glad for any attention my sickness brought to the plight in West Africa amidst this epidemic,” Brantley stated during a news conference on August 21st. “[T]hank you to my family, my friends, my church family and to all who lifted me up in prayer, asking for my healing and recovery. Please do not stop praying for the people of Liberia and West Africa, and for a quick end to this Ebola epidemic.”
As Brantley and Writebol were diagnosed in Africa and not America, reports credit Tuesday’s case in Dallas with the yet-to-be-identified Liberian visitor as the first to be diagnosed on American soil.