The US has seen its first Ebola diagnosis, but there's no reason to panic, officials say: "There's all the difference in the world between the US and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading," notes CDC director Thomas Frieden. "There is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here." The AP, New York Times, and NBC 5 offer guidelines on understanding the situation in Dallas:
- What we know about the patient: He's a male who flew from Liberia to Dallas, but that's about all we know. Officials haven't revealed whether he's a US citizen. It's unknown how he became infected, but it was confirmed that he's not a health worker.
- Others on the patient's plane won't get sick: The patient in question arrived in the US on Sept. 20, but he didn't begin to experience symptoms until Sept. 24. That means officials aren't worried about others on the plane. "Ebola doesn't spread till someone gets sick, and he didn't get sick for four days," Frieden says.
- Who may be at risk: The patient has been in isolation, and officials are seeking the "handful" of people with whom he had close contact beforehand, including family members and community members. The disease only spreads via contact with a patient's bodily fluids; it doesn't travel through the air. Those at risk will have their symptoms checked every day for three weeks.
- Dallas can handle the patient: The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital says it's "well prepared" to take care of him; he won't need to be moved to an isolation unit elsewhere. He'll be treated using IV nutrition, hydration, and possibly an experimental drug or a blood transfusion from an Ebola survivor, Frieden says.
- This may not be the only traveler with Ebola: Screening processes in the affected region involve checking passengers for fever, but those without symptoms could slip through. If any are later found to be infected on or after a flight, the CDC will be on the case.
- How doctors distinguish Ebola from the flu: In the beginning they may look the same, but things get bad fast with Ebola, explains one doctor, "from you just got the flu to you're really, really sick, high-grade fever, vomiting, diarrhea."
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