Health Officials: Ebola Unlikely to Spread in Dallas

Doctors in Dallas, Texas say the first person ever diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States remains in serious, but stable condition, as health officials monitor family members and others who had contact with him after he arrived from Liberia.  Officials say around 100 people may have had contact with the infected man while he was contagious.

Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital here in Dallas last Sunday, is the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

For a few days before that, he was with family and friends.  Directly or indirectly, and may have been in contact with as many as 100 people. Authorities have quarantined four family members at their home and are seeking information about others who may have been near him.

Controversy continues over the Dallas hospital’s failure to immediately isolate Duncan when he first came for treatment, a few days before being admitted.
Dr. Tom Kenyon, Director of Global Health at the US Center for Disease Control, said such mistakes come with the sudden appearance of this large epidemic.

“…it is inevitable that the longer this epidemic exists, the bigger it gets, the greater the risk of importation events like we have just seen. So, while we regret that this [Texas case of Ebola] has occurred, we hope the best for the gentleman’s health. We do want to point out that this is not a failure of the screening system. It is a reality of the epidemic that we find ourselves in,» said Kenyon.

Officials continue to monitor the health of any people who may have come in contact with Duncan, but he remains in isolation as he undergoes treatment.

Some people worry about what will happen if others have been infected.

“At first it was just over in Africa, but now it is here, so it is something local.  It is not widespread, but it is here,” one city resident said.

Most people, however, have expressed little worry.

“I am not really concerned.  It is at the hospital and I am not in contact with anyone who is affiliated with it,” a passerby told VOA.

Another resident opined that “It is so far beyond my capability to do anything about it that I am just going to trust.»

Trust in the U.S. medical system is also the attitude of Nigeria-born Gabriel Ogueri.

“Whatever the situation is, the medical technology we have in this country will take care of that.  We have what it takes to eradicate it.  I am not scared at all,” he stated.

Many residents in Dallas also say their attitude could change if many more people turn out to have been infected by Duncan and develop the disease.

Ebola experts say the best way to prevent further infections in the United States or elsewhere is to defeat the disease in West Africa, where health infrastructure and medical care remain inadequate.