CDC CONFIRMS FIRST EBOLA CASE IMPORTED INTO THE U.S. - CDC TEAM ON THE GROUND IN DALLAS, TEXAS
October 1, 2014
Ten experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – supported 24/7 by the CDC's full Emergency Operations Center and Ebola experts in CDC's Atlanta headquarters – have arrived in Texas and are working closely with Texas state and local health departments to investigate the first Ebola case in the United States. Nine members of the CDC team arrived last night and one arrived today.
The CDC team consists of:
- Three senior scientists with expertise in public health investigations and infection control
- A communications officer
- Five Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers – CDC's disease detectives
- A public health advisor
These CDC experts will assist state and local health departments find, assess, and assist everyone who came into contact with the Ebola patient between the time he became symptomatic (before having symptoms, people with Ebola cannot spread the infection) and the time he was placed in an isolation ward. The CDC experts will help ensure that proper infection control procedures are followed, and monitor healthcare workers treating or attending to the patient. Long experience shows that these tried-and-true core public health interventions stop the spread of Ebola
"We are stopping Ebola in its tracks in this country," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "We can do that because of two things: strong infection control that stops the spread of Ebola in health care; and strong core public health functions to trace contacts, track contacts, isolate them if they have any symptoms and stop the chain of transmission. I am certain we will control this."
The CDC team now is:
- Making sure the patient is receiving treatment and is isolated;
- Interviewing the patient and close contacts, such as family members, to obtain detailed information on their travel history and exposures;
- Ensuring the hospital uses appropriate infection control measures;
- Identifying people who had close contact with the patient and
- interviewing them,
- monitoring them to see if they become ill,
- collecting and testing specimens from them, if needed, and
- requesting that they monitor their health and seek care if they develop symptoms; and
- Monitoring the health status of healthcare providers who cared for the patient
Any hospital following strict CDC infection control recommendations and that can isolate a patient in their own room with a private bathroom is capable of safely managing a patient with Ebola.
"We recognize that it is essential that appropriate measures are taken to prevent the virus from spreading," Dr. Frieden said. "CDC is working closely with partners to implement those measures."
Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone should monitor their health for symptoms, fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding, for 21 days after travel. They should see a healthcare provider as soon as any of these symptoms develop, letting them know of their travel history and symptoms.
CDC is issuing a general reminder to travelers and healthcare providers on best practices. Healthcare providers should take a travel history from any person with symptoms of viral infection. They should consider Ebola in patients who develop fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding 21 days after traveling from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone. They should immediately take infection control precautions and contact their state or local health department if they have any questions.
On September 30th, 2014, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed, through laboratory tests, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from Liberia. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.
The person fell ill on Sept. 24 and sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on Sept. 26. After developing symptoms consistent with Ebola, he was admitted to hospital on Sept. 28. Based on the person’s travel history and symptoms, CDC recommended testing for Ebola. The medical facility isolated the patient and sent specimens for testing at CDC and at a Texas lab participating in the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network. CDC and the Texas Health Department reported the laboratory test results to the medical center to inform the patient. A CDC team is being dispatched to Dallas to assist with the investigation.
“Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities,” said CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “While it is not impossible that there could be additional cases associated with this patient in the coming weeks, I have no doubt that we will contain this.”
The ill person did not exhibit symptoms of Ebola during the flights from West Africa and CDC does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring, as Ebola is contagious only if the person is experiencing active symptoms. The person reported developing symptoms several days after the return flight. Anyone concerned about possible exposure may call CDC-Info at 800-CDC-INFO for more information.
CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person, and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.
We do know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.
CDC has been anticipating and preparing for a case of Ebola in the United States. We have been:
- Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
- Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
- Providing recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
- Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
- Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners
The data health officials have seen in the past few decades since Ebola was discovered indicate that it is not spread through casual contact or through the air. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it ranges from 2 to 21 days); CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious after exposure unless they develop symptoms.