An Ebola victim has flown in from Liberia and has now been placed in an isolation ward at a Dallas hospital.
“This individual left Liberia on the 19th of September, arrived in the U.S. on the 20th of September [and] had no symptoms when departing Liberia or when entering this country,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials said the man left the disease-stricken country of Liberia to visit with friends in the United States. They did not say if the man left Liberia for the United States because he had contacted the disease, which takes up to 21 days to produce symptoms.
The victim began showing symptoms by the Sept. 24, and was admitted on Sept. 28 to the hospital.
That three-day period with symptoms is critical because Ebola can only be transmitted when the victim is having obvious flu-like symptoms.
Frieden indicated the individual could have passed the disease to Americans after he began showing symptoms. Officials are now checking if anyone he met during this period begin to show symptoms, so they can be isolated and treated.
A handful of family members and community members were in contact with the victim, said Friedan.
Symptoms show up within 22 days of an infection. If no one reports symptoms by Oct. 20, the patient will not have passed the disease to an American.
So far, at least 3,000 people have died, and thousands more have been infected with Ebola.
Eighteen people were recently infected with Ebola by one person in Nigeria. But that outbreak has been contained, said officials.
The deadly disease spread via fluids, such as blood and sweat. It does not spread as easily as the flu, which can be carried by coughs from a victim to a new host.
The arrival of disease carrier in the United States is likely to spur public pressure for tighter observation of travelers arriving from Liberia and nearby countries.
“Ok, time to freeze travel from country where there is an Ebola outbreak,” said a tweet from Kathleen McKinley, a columnist for the Houston Chronicle and Newsbusters.
“Keep in mind. This is person flew on a plane full of people to here,” she said.
Currently, airline officials in Africa check passengers for flu-like symptoms before they are allowed onboard any aircraft, federal officials said.