The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola outside of Africa during the ongoing epidemic is being treated at a Dallas hospital. Federal and state health officials say the patient traveled from Liberia on Sept. 19. Here’s what we know about him and the risk to Americans:
Where did he come from?
The patient came from Liberia. He left Monrovia Sept. 19 and arrived in the United States Sept 20. Health officials won’t give many details about the patient, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden says he was visiting relatives who live in the United States. That might imply he’s not a U.S. citizen himself. Health officials also say he does not appear to have been a health worker, although they are double checking. The four Ebola patients evacuated to the U.S. for treatment have all been American doctors or medical missionaries.
Can he have infected anybody else?
Frieden says it’s possible, although not very many people would be at risk. “It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual … could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here,” Frieden said.
The man first felt sick Sept. 24 and went to the hospital in Dallas. But staff didn’t suspect Ebola then, so he went home. He came back by ambulance on Sept. 28. He’s now critically ill in isolation in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Frieden has been clear that no one on the flight to the United States would have been at risk because the patient wasn’t sick yet when he flew. The patient had been staying with family and not at a hotel, and in the affected countries in West Africa, family members, caregivers and health care workers who tend to patients have the highest risk of infection.