By Elly Spencer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention diagnosed the first Ebola patient in the country Tuesday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The patient, whose age has not been released, and is only identified as an adult who was visiting family in America and came by plane from Liberia.
Ebola-like symptoms were first reported Friday and the patient was admitted to isolation on Sunday.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a press conference Tuesday in Atlanta, that the patient was in intensive care and patient contact was being traced.
“I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks within the U.S.,” Frieden said. “However, as long as there are cases in Africa, the reality is that people may be traveling overseas with the disease.”
According to the CDC, contact between the patient now in isolation with other individuals on the plane is not a concern because the patient was not showing symptoms at the time of the flight. Symptoms of Ebola normally show up within an infected individual two to 21 days after infection and the virus is not contagious until the individual has begun to show these symptoms.
Dr. Tamarah Adair, Baylor senior lecturer in biology, said the infection could only be spread through bodily fluids.
“This is not a concern for an outbreak,” she said.
Adair said the U.S. has a very elaborate precautionary healthcare system in place to contain such matters.
Frieden stressed during Tuesday’s press conference that the Dallas hospital was doing everything for the patient and that the Dallas community should not worry about an epidemic.
“This is not Africa,” Frieden told Dallas. “We have a great infrastructure to deal with an outbreak.”
Twelve other people have been tested for Ebola in the U.S. since July 27, but all results were negative.
The ripple effect of the announcement has traveled to Scott and White Hospital in Temple, where precautions have already been put in place.
“We started taking precautions before this case was confirmed,” said Dr. Alan Howell, who works in the infectious disease department.
Howell said a patient reporting symptoms similar to Ebola would be met outside the doors of the emergency facility and taken immediately to an isolation room in order to prevent spreading the possible infection to other patients.
“Things have been in place for a while to help minimize the exposure of these potential patients to other patients and staff,” Howell said.
Frieden said the spread of Ebola is being halted by the work of airport staff and security in African countries who are screening potential carriers of the disease before boarding international planes.
If symptoms are tested and a fever is detected, individuals will be sent to quarantined zones within the airport until further investigation.
The Associated Press and Assistant City Editor Reubin Turner contributed to this story.