The possibility of a second Ebola patient in the United States is being investigated.
The patient had close contact with the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S., said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.
"Let me be real frank to the Dallas County residents: The fact that we have one confirmed case, there may be another case that is a close associate with this particular patient," Thompson said. "So this is real. There should be a concern, but it's contained to the specific family members and close friends at this moment."
Thompson reassured residents that there is no public risk because health officials have the virus contained.
The first confirmed case of the Ebola virus in the United States occurred September 30, according to a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I have no doubt that we'll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.," CDC Director Tom Frieden said. "But I also have no doubt that — as long as the outbreak continues in Africa — we need to be on our guard."
The patient arrived from Liberia to Dallas on September 20. On September 26 he sought medical treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas for an illness and was sent home with antibiotics, reports WFAA. Two days later his illness had become worse, and he required an ambulance to return to the hospital.
The diagnosed man is currently in serious condition.
Thompson said that all those who have been in close contact with the diagnosed man are being monitored as a precaution, reports USA Today.
They include children, as the diagnosed patient had contact with several before being hospitalized. Each child has been kept home and is being monitored as a precaution.
The Dallas County school district is working with health officials.
"DISD is in contact with Dallas County Health Department regarding the Ebola investigation," read a statement from Jon Dahlander, a spokesman with the district. "They are consulting with the County on any additional action that may need to be taken during the course of investigation. This is part of routine emergency operations during a health incident in the county. This is same protocol taken during things like flu and Tuberculosis cases."
The CDC and Dallas County are calling the monitoring a “contact investigation.”
Any person who has had contact with the infected patient, including emergency room staff, will be under observation by health officials for 21 days. If during this time they show symptoms, they will be placed in isolation.
The Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Fort Worth has been urging their 10,000+ Liberian population in North Texas to avoid social gatherings. They have doubts over whether the CDC can contain the virus after witnessing what it has done to their country.
Photo Source: Army Medicine/Wikipedia Commons