In Liberia, an American freelance television cameraman working for
NBC News in Liberia has contracted Ebola, the fifth U.S. citizen
known to be infected with the deadly virus that has killed at least
3,300 people in the current outbreak in West Africa.
The 33-year-old man, whose name was not released, will be flown back
to the United States for treatment, the network said on Thursday.
Immediately after beginning to feel ill and discovering he was
running a slight fever, the cameraman quarantined himself. He then
went to a Doctors Without Borders treatment center and 12 hours
later learned he tested positive for Ebola.
The entire NBC crew will fly back to the United States on a private
charter plane and will place themselves under quarantine for 21
days, the maximum incubation period for Ebola.
U.S. health officials said they were confident they could prevent
the spread of Ebola in the United States after the first case was
diagnosed this week on U.S. soil.
Up to 100 people had direct or indirect contact with Thomas Eric
Duncan, a Liberian citizen, and a handful were being monitored, said
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC).
None of those thought to have had contact with Duncan were showing
symptoms of Ebola, Dallas County officials said at a news
Duncan had helped a pregnant woman who later died of Ebola in
Liberia, just days before flying to Texas via Brussels and
Washington two weeks ago. Duncan had been staying in an apartment in
the northeastern part of the city for about a week before going to a
In Liberia, the head of the country's airport authority, Binyah
Kesselly, said the government could prosecute Duncan for denying he
had contact with someone who was eventually diagnosed with Ebola.
The government said Duncan failed to declare that he helped neighbor
Marthalene Williams after she fell critically ill on Sept. 15.
Kesselly said Duncan was asked in a questionnaire whether he had
come in contact with any Ebola victim or was showing any symptoms.
"To all of these questions, Mr. Duncan answered 'no,'" Kesselly
Ebola can cause fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea and spreads
through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva. Duncan's
case put U.S. health authorities and the public on alert over
concern for the potential of the virus to spread from Liberia and
two other impoverished West African countries, Guinea and Sierra
Three Americans contracted Ebola in West Africa and were flown to
the United States for treatment and later released: Dr. Kent Brantly,
Nancy Writebol and Dr. Rick Sacra. A fourth unnamed American who
contracted Ebola in West Africa is being treated at Emory University
Hospital in Atlanta.
President Barack Obama called Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Thursday
and "pledged federal agencies will remain in close coordination and
reiterated his confidence in America's doctors and national health
infrastructure to handle this case safely and effectively," White
House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Officials have said the U.S. healthcare system is well prepared to
contain the hemorrhagic fever's spread by careful tracking of those
who have had contact with Duncan, and employing appropriate care.
Dallas County officials said the problem was very localized. "When I
say local, I don’t mean Dallas. I mean a very specific neighborhood
in the northeast part of Dallas," Dallas Mayor Rawlings told
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HOSPITAL SENT PATIENT AWAY
Duncan initially sought treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian
Hospital on the night of Sept. 25 but was sent back to the
apartment, with antibiotics, despite telling a nurse he had just
been in Liberia. By Sunday, he needed an ambulance to return to the
same hospital after vomiting on the ground outside the apartment
He was in serious condition on Thursday, no change from Wednesday, a
hospital spokeswoman said.
Police and armed security guards were keeping people about 100 yards
(meters) away from the apartment, with orange cones blocking the
entrance and exit. Maintenance workers scrubbed the parking lot with
high-pressure water and bleach.
Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State
Health Services, said the four people under quarantine did not have
a fever and were healthy.
Lakey said monitoring included fever checks twice a day. At the
apartment, "there is a law enforcement person there in case
individuals leave," Lakey told reporters on a conference call.
U.S. officials initially described the number of people potentially
exposed as a handful, and on Wednesday said it was up to 18. Then on
Thursday, the Texas health department said there were about 100
CNN reported that a Dallas woman who had a child with Duncan said he
had sweated profusely in the bed they shared at her apartment. The
woman, whom CNN identified only as "Louisa," is quarantined in the
apartment with one of her children, who is 13, and two visiting
nephews in their 20s.
They were all in the home when Duncan began showing signs of
illness, the report said. The woman said she mentioned twice to
hospital staff that he had come from Liberia.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at the University
of Pittsburgh, said contact tracing is “bread-and-butter public
health" and something health officials do regularly to track
tuberculosis, measles and sexually transmitted diseases.
Adalja said the most disturbing part of the U.S. incident is that
Duncan was sent home from the hospital with antibiotics.
“This really is something that shouldn’t have happened,” he said.
“It just reinforces that taking a travel history has to be an
essential part of taking care of patients."
(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Toni Clarke in
Washington, Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jon
Herskovitz in Austin, Lisa Maria Garza and Marice Richter in Dallas,
Jim Forsyth in San Antonio and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Felix
Bate in West Africa; Writing by Jim Loney and Grant McCool; Editing
by Bernadette Baum, Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)
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