Now that the Ebola virus has officially hit U.S. soil many people have various questions as to how this happened. News outlets are reporting on how the new patient contracted the disease and whether the hospital turned him away at first.
The New York Times has the scoop.
The man who flew to Dallas and was later diagnosed with the Ebola virus was identified by senior Liberian government officials on Wednesday. He is is only in his mid-40s.
How did he contract the disease?
Officials have found that he (the first person to develop symptoms outside Africa during the current epidemic) had direct contact with a woman stricken by Ebola. This happened on September 15, which was only four days before he left Liberia for the United States. His family apparently gave this information to federal officials.
How did this happen?
Apparently commonly in Liberia, particularly in Monrovia, (the Liberian capital), the family of the woman (only 19), took her by taxi to a hospital with this man's help on September 15th. The young woman was convulsing and seven months pregnant, according to her family.
She was turned away from a hospital for lack of space in its Ebola treatment ward. She was brought back home in the evening, and sadly she died hours later. The identified gentleman was a family friend and also a tenant in a house owned by the woman's family. He rode in the taxi in the front passenger seat while the ill pregnant woman, her father and her brother, shared the back seat. He also helped carry her into their home. This minimal interaction was enough to cause him to contract the deadly virus.
While The New York Times reports on how he caught the virus, CBS news reports on whether the hospital’s actions in treating him were proper.
Many are wondering why he was not admitted two days earlier, on September 26th, when he first came to the hospital with a fever and abdominal pains. CBS explains,
“A nurse, using a checklist, asked whether he traveled from Africa. He answered yes but was released. ‘Regretfully that information was not fully communicated throughout the full team,’ the hospital's Dr. Mark Lester told reporters. Lester wouldn't say if there was a breakdown over whether he should have been admitted that day based on the information that Duncan had traveled from Africa. ‘I can't answer that question because that's one piece of information that would be factored into the entire clinical picture,’ he said.”
Health officials are watching twelve to eighteen people who may have had direct contact with the patient. The patient was staying with relatives at a Dallas apartment complex. This includes five young children. The paramedics who brought the patient to the hospital luckily tested negative for the virus.
CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. LaPook reports that while the CDC remains confident that this Ebola infection can be stopped in its tracks, the agency is worried about why protocol was apparently not followed at the hospital he went to.
“After all, for the last month or two, they've been sending out all sorts of e-blasts and communications - I've gotten them - saying be on the lookout for Ebola. And that means that symptoms like fever or nausea or headache, minor ones that can seem like a virus, think of Ebola and always ask a travel history,” according to Dr. LaPook.
Dr. Lapook reiterates how the virus is spread. He explained to people via Facebook that Ebola is not spread through the air. People would need to have direct contact with fluids in order to contract it. In addition to that, there has to be some type of break in the skin or the disease would need to make direct contact through mucus membranes in the mouth or maybe the nose.