Health authorities in the United States announced they have diagnosed the first Ebola case in the country, which is also the first one to be reported outside Africa and the several countries, hit by the current epidemic.
The patient, whose name wasn’t revealed, recently arrived from Liberia to visit his family, where he had probably contracted the virus. He fell ill in Dallas and was diagnosed with the same strain of Ebola that is currently responsible for the epidemic in West Africa. He is now in critical condition and in isolation at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The conformation of his diagnose came on Tuesday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services. Besides being the first-ever Ebola case in the country, the patient is also the first case of the current outbreak reported outside Africa.
Health authorities have begun monitoring his family, as well as tracking the people he might have had contact with since his arrival from Liberia and other expats. Although there are still no other suspected cases of the disease, officials say, there is a chance that the patient could have infected others, as he fell ill four or five days after arrival. However, experts explain the risk of an outbreak in the US is insignificant, because an infected person becomes contagious only after Ebola symptoms start to show.
Symptoms of the deadly disease include fever and flu-like signs, muscle pain, as well as vomiting and bleeding. The incubation period of the virus can range from several days to three weeks. After the symptoms develop, the patient can spread the infection only through bodily fluids such as blood or saliva, so even fellow passengers on the plane from Liberia are not at risk of getting sick.
The Ebola outbreak, which started in March in West Africa, has affected Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal. More than 6,500 people have been infected and around 3,100 have died from the devastating symptoms of the disease. Although the World Health Organization is trying to keep track of the number of cases, the CDC recently said that there are many unreported cases and the real figures should be much larger. According to their experts, Ebola may infect up to 1.4 million people by the end of January 2015.
Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for Ebola. Several drugs are being tested, but a treatment may be expected no earlier than December.