While the patient with Ebola remains in critical condition in Dallas, medical staff are tracing everyone who may have possibly been exposed to the infectious disease. There are around 100 people currently being monitored for symptoms and more may be added to that list as new details emerge, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. They will be monitored for 21 days, the amount of time it can take between exposure and Ebola symptoms to begin.
Four people related to the patient, identified as Thomas Duncan by the Liberian airport authorities, are currently quarantined in an apartment in Dallas.
During a call with the press today, Dr. David Lakey, commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services said that they are going into the community to identify potential exposures as early as possible.
To monitor symptoms, medical staff visit these 100 individuals twice a day to take their temperature. So far 14 people have been tested for Ebola in the Dallas area, but all came back negative.
Duncan was initially sent home from the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after telling the nurse he had just returned from West Africa.
According to Lakey, hospitals across the U.S. do not take travel history as seriously as they need to, but that doesn’t make Texas Health Presbyterian a bad hospital. Instead, Lakey said, that trend needs to be changed; hospitals need to make connections with whats happening around the world.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they have refreshed Ebola checklists for hospitals and are imploring medical staff to emphasize travel histories. Director of the CDC Dr. Thomas Frieden, said the risk cannot be negated until the West African outbreak is under control, but the risk can be minimized by ensuring no one else is exposed here at home.
“That’s how we’re going to break the chain of transmission, and that’s where our focus has to be,” said Frieden.
He described the extensive screening taking place in West Africa before people leave countries infected with Ebola, and said they have pulled more than a dozen people out of lines boarding airplanes because they had fevers.
Ebola has killed at least 3,338 people so far in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.