Texas Governor Says Children Had Contact with Ebola Patient

The governor of Texas says some school-age children had contact with an Ebola patient now hospitalized in the city of Dallas.

Governor Rick Perry says the children are being monitored for signs of Ebola, and that health authorities are seeking out others who came into contact with the man, a Liberian national who is the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S.

Stanley Gaye is the head of the Liberian Community Assocation of Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas.  He tells VOA the organization is urging local Liberian immigrants to contact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control if they think they might have been exposed to the deadly virus.

«Those that have been in contact with this individual, we ask that they reach out to the CDC and the hospital to make sure they have been — literally be tested, not to be ashamed of it,» Gaye said, adding that his organization is sending out that same message to Liberians by text and e-mail.

In serious condition 

The unidentified patient has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since Sunday.  Mark Lester, an executive with Texas Health Resources, told reporters Wednesday that the patient is in serious but stable condition.

The Ebola-diagnosed patient is believed to have been infected with the potentially deadly virus in Liberia.  He started showing symptoms days after he arrived in Dallas on September 20, reportedly to visit family members.

He is currently being treated at Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital, is in strict isolation and listed as in serious condition.

Hospital officials have acknowledged that the man initially came to the hospital two days earlier and was sent home with antibiotics.

The paramedics who brought him to the hospital on Sunday have so far tested negative for Ebola.  Officials are trying to determine who else may have come in contact with him.

That would most likely be friends and family members.  In an attempt to reassure the public, officials said no one who flew to the United States on the same plane with the patient is in any danger.

The chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Tom  Frieden said there is no doubt authorities will contain the virus, so that it will not spread widely in the U.S.

«We have a seven-person team in Dallas today helping to review that with the family and make sure we identify everyone that could have had contact with him,» Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told NBC in an interview.

How Ebola spreads

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Ebola spreads though contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva, something public health experts say naturally limits its potential to infect others, unlike airborne diseases.

Frieden said experts were monitoring «a handful» of people
who were potentially exposed, including family members the patient was visiting.

«The team on the ground will review that very intensively to see whether there’s any other groups who, out of an abundance of caution, we would want to monitor carefully,» Frieden told NBC’s Today show from CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

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