UPDATE, 3:44 p.m.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that a patient at Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is the first case of Ebola confirmed in the United States.
UPDATE, 5:13 p.m.: At a news conference in Atlanta, CDC Director Tom Frieden said federal, local and state health officials will contain any threat that Ebola will spread further locally. "I have no doubt we'll stop this in it's tracks in the U.S.," he said. Doctors' first concern is treating the patient, who traveled from Liberia September 19-20, but didn't start developing symptoms until the 24th.
Ebola patients are not infectious until they show symptoms, and Frieden downplayed any worries that the patient might have infected anyone on board his flight to the United States, where he was visiting family members.
Public health care workers with the CDC and in Texas have already begun the process of identifying anyone who might have come in contact with the man, who is in intensive care. Friedan said the number of potential contacts during the period the man became infectious is likely to be small -- a handful of family members and one to three others. Those who came in contact with the patient after he likely became infectious will be monitored for 21 days.
Patient privacy laws prevent authorities releasing the man's name or any information that might identify him.
ORIGINAL POST: Dallas County Health and Human Services gave an update Tuesday morning on the status of a patient potentially infected with Ebola currently being cared for in isolation at Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and the county's' preparation in the event an Ebola case is confirmed. No details have been given about the patient, other than that he or she is being kept in "strict isolation" and was admitted based on symptoms and "travel history."
"This is not Africa," DCHHS Director Zach Thompson said. "We have a great public health infrastructure to deal with this type of disease."
Christopher Perkins, the medical director for county health services, made it clear the risk for outbreak is low because Ebola cannot be spread through the air. Ebola can only be spread through contact with blood or bodily fluids.
Two men who visited West Africa, the epicenter of this year's Ebola outbreak, warned the commissioners about the effects of the disease and urged Dallas County to send whatever help it could in order to stem Ebola where it's most prevalent.
After leaving the commissioner's court meeting to participate in conference call with the Centers for Disease Control, Texas Health Presbyterian and state health officials, Thompson and Perkins returned with an update.
The potential Ebola patient's test results are not in yet, but are expected later Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday evening. CDC personnel are on their way to Dallas in case either of the two samples from the patient being screened are positive for Ebola. If the test was to come back positive, the CDC would lead any actions necessary, with the county providing support, Thompson said.
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