A patient in Dallas has tested positive for Ebola, the first time the virus has been diagnosed inside the United States.
A report from Fox News said the Dallas County Health Department said the patient was recently in Africa, where the virus has claimed the lives of thousands in an epidemic that has spread across country borders.
In a late Tuesday briefing, Tom Frieden, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, said he believes officials will be able to quickly minimize the spread of the virus.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here,” he said.
But Frieden stressed that health officials will spend time identifying everyone with which the patient had contact, and to monitor those people to see if they develop any symptoms. He said once that list is developed, they will all be closely monitored, and if they develop Ebola-like symptoms, they will also be isolated.
While that raises the prospect that the patient may have infected some others, Frieden stressed that Ebola can only spread from people with Ebola symptoms, and said the patient entered the U.S. from Liberia without any symptoms. He said the patient returned from Liberia on September 20, and didn’t show symptoms until around September 24.
“Remember, Ebola does not spread from someone who’s not infectious,” he said. “It does not spread from someone who doesn’t have fever and other symptoms. It’s only someone who’s sick with Ebola who can spread the disease.”
Frieden also said Ebola only spreads through direct contact through an exchange of bodily fluids, and said the CDC doesn’t believe anyone flying back with the patient is at risk of catching the virus.
Frieden said the CDC doesn’t believe the male patient, who was not named, was involved in fighting the virus in Liberia.
While the virus has spread rapidly in Africa, U.S. health officials have said they are confident the U.S. health care system can stop the virus from spreading within the country.
“[I]t is possible that an infected traveler might arrive in the U.S.” CDC director Beth Bell told Congress earlier this month. “Should this occur, we are confident that our public health and healthcare systems can prevent any Ebola outbreak here.”