America’s first Ebola victim went to a hospital on his first visit and told workers he was from Liberia, which is battling an epidemic, but he was sent home anyway, the Associated Press reports.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the U.S.’s first case of Ebola on Tuesday in Dallas. The man, Thomas Eric Duncan, stayed with family in the U.S. upon his arrival, and apparently sought treatment days ago, but was sent home. Duncan went to an emergency room on Friday but was sent home with antibiotics. When he returned on Sunday, he was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
A nurse did ask Duncan during his first visit whether he had been in a part of West Africa affected by the Ebola outbreak, and Duncan confirmed that he just come from Liberia. But that “information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team,” Dr. Mark Lester told The AP.
Liberia has been the hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak. As of Sept. 29, the CDC reported 3,458 total cases in Liberia and 1,830 deaths. Patients with flu-like symptoms who have recently traveled from endemic regions, especially Liberia, should have been a red flag for the hospital.
Several school-age children, who are family of the patient, did come in contact with him while he was infectious, Texas Governor Rick Perry said Wednesday. Health officials still think the chance of Ebola spreading throughout the state is “very small.” (RELATED: Rand Paul: Don’t Underestimate Ebola’s Transmissibility)
Ebola spreads only through direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids, such as saliva and blood. Flu-like symptoms show up within 22 days of an infection.
Duncan is in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian and federal officials are attempting to track down anyone who could have come into contact with him. (RELATED: Ebola Flies Into Dallas)
“We have a seven-person team in Dallas today helping to review that with the family and make sure we identify everyone that could have had contact with him,” Tom Frieden, CDC director, said Wednesday.