TIME Infectious Disease

Dallas Keeps Calm and Carries On After Ebola Arrives

Dr. Edward Goodman, left, epidemiologist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, points to a reporter for a question as Dr. Mark Lester looks on during a news conference about an Ebola infected patient they are caring for in Dallas, Sept. 30, 2014.
Dr. Edward Goodman, left, epidemiologist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, points to a reporter for a question as Dr. Mark Lester looks on during a news conference about an Ebola infected patient they are caring for in Dallas, Sept. 30, 2014. LM Otero—AP

Officials search for answers and urge calm in Dallas

A Dallas hospital patient is battling Ebola, it emerged Tuesday, the first victim of the deadly disease to be diagnosed on American soil. But Texans have resisted the urge to panic at the news, and, contrary to type, have so far been subdued and measured in their public reaction.

Within minutes of the news that a man who had flown from Liberia to Dallas had fallen ill with the deadly virus, a chorus of Texas officials took to the airways to call for calm and insist that this invasion would be defeated. “Take a deep breath,” urged Jay M. Barnhardt, PH. D., director of the University of Texas Center for Health Communication. The former director of the National Center for Health Marketing at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested on Austin television that the state’s media had a responsibility to be measured and informative in its response — a stance most media outlets appear to be taking, so far. The Dallas Morning News urged readers to take a calm approach to the alarming news: “Time for panic? Absolutely not. This is a time to stay informed and follow the instructions of health professionals so they can ensure that the virus doesn’t spread.”

Even Texas Gov. Rick Perry, usually a ready voice when it comes to expounding on the issue of the day, be it Iranian nukes or border security, took a decidedly low key approach. No immediate statement was forthcoming from the governor’s office, but he did offer a few offhand comments in New York –“we will continue to monitor the situation” — while campaigning for New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astarino.

But while the call for calm has gone forth, questions are beginning to pile up in Texas — the most serious being why was the patient was originally sent home after initial treatment. The patient first came to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 26, and was treated, given antibiotics, and discharged, according to numerous local news reports. He then returned on Sunday, Sept. 28. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings confirmed Tuesday that the EMS crew that transported the patient back to the hospital after his condition worsened had been placed in quarantine and the ambulance decontaminated. It also was unclear how the patient had travelled to the U.S., what his itinerary had been, and what were his activities upon arrival.

Texans were given some assurances Tuesday. Health officials had been on alert for the possibility of an Ebola outbreak, they were told — after all, the state is home to two significant African immigrant communities in Dallas and Houston, both home to major international airports. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the patient presented himself, had a run through of Ebola-response activities last week, according to hospital officials.

“We were prepared,” Dr. Edward Goodman, an epidemiologist at Texas Health Presbyterian, said Tuesday in a news conference. “We have had a plan in place for some time now in the event of a patient presenting with possible Ebola. We are well-prepared to deal with this crisis.” The Texas Department of State of Health Services also had been alert to the possible crisis and was certified to do Ebola testing on Aug. 22, David L. Lakey, state health commissioner said Tuesday, enabling a speedy analysis of the patient’s blood.

The news that Ebola had landed in Dallas, while anticipated in an abstract sense by the medical community, was little surprise to some in Dallas’ African immigrant community. Dallas is home to a vibrant African immigrant population, many of them well-educated West Africans who have escaped the poverty of their ancestral homes to build new lives in the U.S, often as healthcare workers or small business owners. The community includes between 5,000 and 10,000 Liberians, according to one Liberian community group, many of whom regularly return to the African country that has been worst hit by the disease. Carolyn Woahloe, head of the Dallas Liberian Nurses Association told KXAS, the Dallas NBC affiliate: “We have people going and coming every day, so like I said, this is shocking, because they take all the necessary precautions over there at the airport and even when they get here.”

But for another established member of the Dallas community, there was a sense of inevitability about this week’s developments. Foday Fofanah has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and recently returned from his native Sierra Leone after burying his mother. Over the years, he has built up a non-profit, dubbed Sankofa, to help pull his native county out of extreme poverty, and lately he has focused on the impact of Ebola on one of the world’s poorest nations. Sierra Leone has 2,021 cases of the disease and 605 deaths, according to the CDC.

Fofanah told KTVT, the Dallas CBS affiliate, that he wasn’t surprised by the arrival of Ebola in Texas. “There are 5,000 Sierra Leonians in the Dallas area. They know about Ebola,” he said. “I just knew it was bound to happen because people travel every day. It’s a small globe. It was bound to happen.”

TIME Food

This New Method of Farming Could Change Where Our Food Comes From

"It could be that the best strawberries in the world come from Detroit"

Caleb Harper, founder of the CITYFarm Research Project, and his team at MIT’s Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass. appear to have found a way to grow food four times faster than it does in nature, using a new farming method called “Aeroponics.”

Unlike regular hydroponics, a growing method that uses water instead of soil, the plants at CITYFarm do not sit in still water, but rather have their roots suspended in a “fog chamber” which sprays a nutrient-rich mist.

The CITYFarmers take great care to monitor each aspect of the plants’ growth, to see which conditions work the best, including a technique of limiting light to red and blue.

“This is the spectrum of light that the plants need to grow extra plant material,” Harper explains–and the rest of the spectrum besides red and blue only serves to provide heat.

Harper believes that Aeoroponics not only grows fuller, more developed plants, but could be a solution to local farmers looking to provide sustenance to booming city populations.

“We all know the phrase, ‘the best X comes from X'”, he explains, instead proposing that “the best X comes from the environment that created it.”

“There is a new way to think of using fabrication space, especially if you look at a city like Detroit.”

By building a similar set up, which requires no soil or great tracts of land, “it could be that the best strawberries in the world come from Detroit.”

TIME viral

People on Twitter Are Replacing Parts of Movie Titles With ‘Ebola’

Not everyone sees the funny side

Twitter users have reacted to the news of America’s first confirmed case of Ebola by inserting the virus’s name into their favorite films, with the hashtag #ReplaceMovieTitleWithEbola trending on the social network.

Health officials confirmed Tuesday that a patient in Dallas has the disease, which has so far claimed more than 3,000 lives in West Africa and brought several nations to the brink of collapse. Alongside various expressions of concern and sympathy, a bizarre game emerged on social media.

Of course, not everyone saw the funny side.

TIME Infectious Disease

How U.S. Doctors Can Contain Ebola

Ebola’s early symptoms look a lot like the flu or malaria. What are US doctors doing to distinguish Ebola from other diseases?

With the first case of Ebola diagnosed Tuesday in the U.S., doctors are on alert for other cases of travelers from the region who might be infected and bring the virus back with them to the States. But what are they doing and, perhaps more pressing, what should they be doing?

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been expecting such a case, given how mobile the world’s population is. So the agency has published guidelines to help doctors and hospitals distinguishing Ebola, particularly in its early forms, from the common flu or other infections.

Complicating matters is the fact that Ebola can take as long as 21 days to incubate, after which the first symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, might send sick patients to the hospital or their local urgent care center. But fevers, especially in October in much of the U.S., generally mean the flu—and most doctors won’t think twice about recommending a flu shot (if the patient hasn’t already been vaccinated) and some fever reducing medication before sending a patient home.

That needs to change, say infectious disease experts and CDC officials. “Given the current outbreak, I think all U.S. hospitals should review processes for evaluating patients with fever,” says Ryan Fagan, who is leading the domestic infection-control efforts related to Ebola for the CDC. “It’s good practice to take travel histories.”

“Asking the questions takes literally five seconds for most patients,” says Dr. Mark Kline, an infectious disease specialist and physician in chief at Texas Children’s Hospital. “It’s quick and it’s easy, and for 99% of patients we see, if they say they haven’t traveled outside of the U.S. in the last 21 days, that’s the end of the Ebola discussion right there.”

At Patient First, a primary-care and urgent care facility in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, CEO Dr. Pete Sowers has been preparing an Ebola plan that will now be put into place. Patients will be greeted with a sign at the entrance and at the registration kiosk asking them to notify the receptionist if they have recently traveled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone and have any of the symptoms connected with Ebola. A nurse then meets the patient at the reception area and interviews them briefly to determine if they have potentially been in direct contact with the virus and if so, guides them to the nearest hospital. All staff are also educated about how to screen for common Ebola symptoms that might otherwise be mistaken for something else, like the common flu.

Similarly, at the University of Texas hospitals in Houston, nurses and staff who register patients in the emergency rooms or any of the clinics are trained to ask patients if they have traveled outside of the U.S. in the past 21 days. If they have, patients are asked where they have been. If the patient has been in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, they are brought to a separate room where they are given surgical masks and where health care personnel wear protective equipment, including gowns, gloves and masks, when entering the room.

MORE: The 5 Biggest Mistakes in the Ebola Outbreak

Any hospital, no matter how small, has the capability of implementing such a system. Because Ebola is not an airborne virus, and can only be spread via direct contact with infected body fluids such as saliva, blood or other excretions, specially ventilated rooms aren’t necessary to contain infection and protect the rest of the hospital from getting exposed.

That’s why infectious disease experts are advising primary care doctors and those working at urgent-care clinics to adopt the same simple procedures: first asking patients about where they have been in the past month to triage those who are at highest risk of having Ebola, and also having a room ready for those who they suspect might be infected.

Even if they have recently traveled to the active Ebola areas in west Africa and have fevers doesn’t mean these patients harbor the virus. So far, says Fagan, hundreds of calls have come in to the CDC from local health departments about suspected cases of Ebola, and none, until the Dallas case, has been positive. Malaria and other infections also cause fevers that can last several days and make patients feel nauseous and weak. A quick look at a patient’s blood can reveal the malaria parasite under a microscope, and a relatively simple blood test can detect the genetic signature of the Ebola virus.

But it’s not practical nor necessarily helpful to run the Ebola test on every patient with a fever, says Fagan. Health departments and the CDC don’t have the resources to perform that many analyses, and even if they did, “if you test people who have low likelihood of having the disease to begin with, you start to run into problems with false positives since no test is perfect,” he says.

So here again, doctors have to rely on a much more labor-intensive but still effective technique: asking more detailed questions about their patients’ experience in the Ebola-stricken countries. Such as, did they have direct skin contact, or contact with the blood, urine, feces, saliva or vomit of an Ebola patient, or someone suspected of having Ebola? Did they have direct contact with the body of an Ebola patient during a funeral? Those patients would be at high risk of contracting Ebola, and would likely need a blood test to confirm presence of the virus. Doctors would take a blood sample and then call their local health department for testing, who would then notify the CDC, and both labs would likely perform analysis that looks for genetic signatures of the virus.

If the person had been in a home or health0care facility with Ebola patients, but didn’t have direct contact with them, they would be at medium risk of having the infection, and, says Fagan, public health officials would consult with the CDC to determine whether that person’s blood needed to be tested.

Despite the high death rate from Ebola in West Africa, health officials in the U.S. say that same toll is unlikely to be repeated here, since relatively easy infection control measures can be implemented in nearly every U.S. doctor’s office and clinic.

 

TIME Infectious Disease

Ebola in the United States: What You Need to Know

TIME answers your questions about Ebola in the United States

Ebola now has its first diagnosis in the U.S., and while concerning, it’s not entirely surprising. Given how interconnected our world is, the CDC has long said that it’s possible Ebola could make it here, though it’s unlikely it would spread widely. Here’s what you need to know, now that there’s a patient with Ebola in Dallas.

Can I get Ebola?
No one is immune to Ebola, but that being said, the only way Ebola is transmitted is through bodily fluids like vomit and diarrhea and blood. You really have to be up close and personal with an Ebola patient to be at risk for contracting the disease, which is why, so far anyway, Ebola has spread primarily among family members of the infected as well as those caring for them. It’s not easy to catch Ebola, especially since it does not spread through the air.

But I heard it could spread through the air.
A renowned infectious disease expert named Michael Osterholm wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that said airborne Ebola is possible if the virus mutates enough. As TIME reported in the past, anything is possible with viruses, but there are many other mutations that are more likely than a change in the mode of transmission—meaning how you catch it. For instance, a virus could become more virulent—more contagious—or could develop incubation periods that are longer than the current estimate of 21 days. But in general, scientists are not very concerned about that.

What’s the likelihood it will spread in the U.S.?
Not very, though the patient’s direct contacts must be screened. On Tuesday, director of the CDC Dr. Tom Frieden said in a press conference: “The bottom-line here is I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely.” The CDC has consistently said that given the quality of the U.S. health care system, it’s very unlikely that there will be significant spread of the disease on U.S. soil. Any hospital in the U.S. with an isolation unit—which is most of them—has the ability to isolate a person with Ebola as well as treat them with supportive care. Even though Ebola has no cure, monitoring patients’ heart rates and providing fluids and electrolytes can go a long way. For instance, if a patients’ potassium plummets, doctors and the U.S. can replenish it fairly easily. That’s a different situation from West Africa, where health care workers are dealing with a significant lack of resources and less sophisticated equipment.

But could there be more cases?
It’s certainly possible. This is not the first time Ebola has crossed borders via air travel. Nigeria’s outbreak started when a Liberian-American man infected with the disease traveled from Liberia to Nigeria. That same patient was en route to Minnesota. In a press conference on Tuesday, Dr. Frieden said: “As long as the outbreak continues in Africa, we need to be on-guard.” The CDC has been working for months with U.S. hospitals to make sure they feel prepared to handle any cases of Ebola by informing hospitals about the warning signs, as well as what kind of protective equipment they should wear.

Are the people on the plane at risk?
That’s highly unlikely. Ebola is only contagious when a person starts exhibiting symptoms of the disease, like a fever. And even then, a person can only contract the disease from direct contact with bodily fluids. The patient with Ebola in Dallas did not start exhibiting symptoms until four days after landing in the U.S., which means it’s extremely unlikely people on his plane are at any risk.

Why did the Dallas hospital originally send the patient home?
Though we don’t know the hospital’s reasoning, we do know that Ebola presents similarly in the beginning to other diseases, like malaria for instance. It’s possible the health care workers thought it was something else. After all, Ebola has never arrived in the U.S. before. The CDC said they are also unsure how the patient got infected. A health care worker traveling home from Liberia would likely set off more red flags. The CDC has still been prepping the U.S. health system for the possibility, which is why we’ve had so many false alarms.

Should I be freaking out?
The CDC and the Texas Department of Health are confident that Ebola will be contained in the U.S., and if the current patient’s health is similar to that of other infected people evacuated into the U.S., they have a better shot at survival. The disease’s high mortality rate in West Africa is largely due to the state of the health care systems in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, as well as overcrowding and lack of resources.

So what’s the bottom line?
The Ebola outbreak as a whole is terrifying, with over 3,000 dead and the worst yet to come, according to reliable predictions. The new case is a reminder that an infectious disease outbreak like Ebola truly is a global health emergency.

TIME Infectious Disease

How to Get to Monrovia and Back

A Brussels Airlines plane bound for Monrovia at Brussels Airport in Brussels on Aug. 28, 2014.
A Brussels Airlines plane bound for Monrovia at Brussels Airport in Brussels on Aug. 28, 2014. Dominique Faget—AFP/Getty Images

People, and viruses like Ebola, can go anywhere these days

None of the passengers who flew with Ebola Patient Zero from Monrovia, Liberia to Dallas, Texas will have to worry about catching the deadly virus. The patient wasn’t contagious in-flight. Airlines may be called carriers, but airplanes themselves are not particularly good at spreading viral diseases such as Ebola.

What they are good at is transporting people infected with viral diseases from a seemingly far off and remote city such as Monrovia to a big American town such as Dallas. But the global economy has brought cities a lot closer together, and changed disease vectors accordingly.

Need to get to Monrovia? Easy. We can book a trip for you immediately if your passport is handy and you have the visa. There’s a flight leaving JFK in New York City at 5:55 p.m. on Thursday that gets you into Monrovia 21 hours and 25 minutes later. (Relax, Delta passengers; the airline serves Monrovia through Accra from New York, but suspended that connecting service on August 30.) The current itinerary is JFK to BRU to DKR to ROB, airline code for New York to Brussels, where you’ll change planes, then a stop at Dakar, Senegal, before heading to Monrovia’s Roberts International Airport. All that travel takes place aboard Brussels Airlines on wide body Airbus 330s. Indeed, the worst part of the trip may be flying to New York on a commuter jet from Dallas.

You have other options, too: the airline-listing site Kayak offers 1,673 combinations that will get you to Monrovia from New York. Or you can make 574 connections through Chicago. And Open Skies agreements that freed global airlines to fly point-to-point across continents have, as the State Department puts it, “vastly expanded international passenger and cargo flights to and from the United States.”

You can hop an A380 on Emirates Airlines from Dallas to Dubai, change there for a Qatar Air flight to Casablanca and then find a Royal Maroc 737-800 to Monrovia via Freetown. Or fly non-stop to London and then connect via Casablanca or Brussels to Monrovia.

The point is, you can get anywhere from here. And so can the germs.

TIME Infectious Disease

White House Urges Calm After First Confirmed U.S. Ebola Case

Tourists visit the south side of the White House on Sept. 30, 2014 in Washington.
Tourists visit the south side of the White House on Sept. 30, 2014 in Washington. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

"You can't get Ebola through air. You can't get Ebola through water. You can't get Ebola through food in the U.S."

Within minutes of confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the first confirmed case of Ebola on U.S. soil, the White House communications operation sprang into overdrive. Their message: don’t panic.

Seeking to combat the inevitable national concern over the deadly infectious disease which has ravage West Africa for more than six months,the Obama administration took to social media to raise awareness that while the virus is potent, it is relatively hard to contract.

“You can’t get Ebola through air. You can’t get Ebola through water. You can’t get Ebola through food in the U.S.,” the administration said in a rapid-response graphic shared on the White House website and Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. “America has the best doctors and public health infrastructure in the world, and we are prepared to respond.”

WhiteHouse.Gov

President Barack Obama was informed minutes before a scheduled meeting of the National Security Council on the efforts to combat the spread of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an official said.

Lisa Monaco, the President’s Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Advisor, has been coordinating the administration’s homeland preparedness response to Ebola, and White House chief information officer Steven VanRoekel has returned to the U.S. Agency for International Development to work on the response, but Obama has not appointed a point-person to oversee the government-wide effort to combat Ebola.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden briefed Obama by phone Tuesday afternoon on the diagnosis, as well as the “stringent isolation protocols under which the patient is being treated as well as ongoing efforts to trace the patient’s contacts to mitigate the risk of additional cases,” the White House said.

Earlier in September, Obama traveled to CDC headquarters in Atlanta for a briefing on the disease, announcing the deployment of hundreds of U.S. medical personnel and 3,000 American troops to assist in the response in Africa, while various federal agencies have worked to raise awareness at U.S. ports of entry and medical facilities.

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd in early September, Obama said Americans shouldn’t consider the virus a “short term” threat, but warned that unchecked it could be a greater issue.

“Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion here in the United States short term, because it’s not an airborne disease,” Obama said on Meet the Press. But he warned that the U.S. must make the disease a “national-security priority.” “If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates,” he said. “It becomes more easily transmittable. And then it could be a serious danger to the United States.”

Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer was appearing on CNN’s The Situation Room in a pre-arranged interview Tuesday evening, but urged calm. “America has the best doctors and public health infrastructure in the world, so we’re ready to deal with it,” he said, adding that the U.S. has “been prepared for this possibility for a long time.”

TIME Developmental Disorders

Study: 96% of Deceased NFL Players’ Brains Had Degenerative Disease

The seal affixed to the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington on June 21, 2013.
The seal affixed to the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in Washington on June 21, 2013. Charles Dharapak—AP

The brain bank's research furthers the argument that football is linked brain injury

The brains of 76 out of 79 (96%) of deceased NFL players showed signs of a degenerative brain disease, according to a study released Tuesday by the nation’s largest brain bank.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ brain repository in Massachusetts, a collaboration between VA and Boston University’s CTE Center, found that the instance of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition that causes dementia and other cognitive problems, was so high that it doubled the number of CTE cases previously reported by the institution, PBS reported.

“Obviously this high percentage of living individuals is not suffering from CTE,” Dr. Ann McKee, the brain bank’s director, told PBS. “Playing football, and the higher the level you play football and the longer you play football, the higher your risk.”

Doctors at the brain repository have previously conducted research on brain tissue samples from professional, semi-professional, college and high-school football players. The rate of CTE, while lower than 96%, still remained high, at 80%.

The studies were made possible by football players who volunteered their brains for scientific research, because CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously, according to PBS. As a result, doctors who conducted the study said their sample may be skewed, as many volunteers donated their brains because when they were alive, they already suspected that they suffered from CTE.

Still, the findings have added fuel to heated discussions that football—both at professional and lower levels—may be linked to degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, as a recent study showed. The NFL has also come under fire for allegedly covering up the risks of head injuries and concussions, which are linked to individuals who suffer from CTE.

TIME Aging

Norway Is the Best Place to Grow Old

163252583
Westend61—Getty Images/Brand X

But a third of countries are not meeting the needs of their growing aging populations

Growing old is a pleasure—if you’re in Norway, that is. A new report looking at the social and economic wellbeing of older people in 96 countries reveals that Norway is the happiest place to age, followed by Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada.

It’s not as much fun elsewhere. The report, called the Global AgeWatch Index, found that a third of countries are ill equipped to deal with increasingly large aging populations. The report says that in low and middle income countries, only a quarter of people over age 65 receive a pension. Countries on the low-end of the list lacked programs for free health care and chronic disease treatment, community centers and subsidized transport.

The report by HelpAge International and the University of Southampton shows that by 2050, 21% of the global population will be over age 60. While more people are living longer, if people are also living sicker or without support, that takes a serious economic toll. In the U.S. alone, 2012 data noted that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid eat up about 40% of all federal spending and 10% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The authors note that Norway claimed the top spot because it has well-developed organizations for the elderly, a long history of state welfare and strong social media campaigns that create public awareness of age-related issues. The worst country for the elderly is Afghanistan, according to the report, and the United States ranked seventh overall.

Here’s the entire Global Age Watch ranking:

  • Norway (1)
  • Sweden (2)
  • Switzerland (3)
  • Canada (4)
  • Germany (5)
  • Netherlands (6)
  • Iceland (7)
  • United States (8)
  • Japan (9)
  • New Zealand (10)
  • United Kingdom (11)
  • Denmark (12)
  • Australia (13)
  • Austria (14)
  • Finland (15)
  • France (16)
  • Ireland (17)
  • Israel (18)
  • Luxembourg (19)
  • Estonia (20)
  • Spain (21)
  • Chile (22)
  • Uruguay (23)
  • Panama (24)
  • Czech Republic (25)
  • Costa Rica (26)
  • Belgium (27)
  • Georgia (28)
  • Slovenia (29)
  • Mexico (30)
  • Argentina (31)
  • Poland (32)
  • Ecuador (33)
  • Cyprus (34)
  • Latvia (35)
  • Thailand (36)
  • Portugal (37)
  • Mauritius (38)
  • Italy (39)
  • Armenia (40)
  • Romania (41)
  • Peru (42)
  • Sri Lanka (43)
  • Philippines (44)
  • Viet Nam (45)
  • Hungary (46)
  • Slovakia (47)
  • China (48)
  • Kyrgyzstan (49)
  • South Korea (50)
  • Bolivia (51)
  • Columbia (52)
  • Albania (53)
  • Nicaragua (54)
  • Malta (55)
  • Bulgaria (56)
  • El Salvador (57)
  • Brazil (58)
  • Bangladesh (59)
  • Lithuania (60)
  • Tajikistan (61)
  • Dominican Republic (62)
  • Guatemala (63)
  • Belarus (64)
  • Russian (65)
  • Paraguay (66)
  • Croatia (67)
  • Montenegro (68)
  • India (69)
  • Nepal (70)
  • Indonesia (71)
  • Mongolia (72)
  • Greece (73)
  • Moldova (74)
  • Honduras (75)
  • Venezuela (76)
  • Turkey (77)
  • Serbia (78)
  • Cambodia (79)
  • South Africa (80)
  • Ghana (81)
  • Ukraine (82)
  • Morocco (83)
  • Lao PDR (84)
  • Nigeria (85)
  • Rwanda (86)
  • Iraq (87)
  • Zambia (88)
  • Uganda (89)
  • Jordan (90)
  • Pakistan (91)
  • Tanzania (92)
  • Malawi (93)
  • West Bank and Gaza (94)
  • Mozambique (95)
  • Afghanistan (96)
TIME Infectious Disease

CDC Confirms First Case of Ebola Diagnosed in the U.S.

Outbreak has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Africa

Health officials confirmed Tuesday that a patient in Dallas has Ebola, marking the first such diagnosis of the deadly disease ever to occur on U.S. soil.

Until now, the only cases of Ebola in the U.S. have been Americans who were infected abroad and were brought back for treatment. The death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak ever, which has hit several countries in West Africa, surpassed 3,000 last week.

The patient, who has not been identified, had traveled to the U.S. from Liberia, leaving Liberia on Sept. 19 and arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20. The patient had no symptoms when departing Liberia or when first landing in the U.S., but began developing symptoms for the deadly virus four days after arrival. On Sept. 28, the patient was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. The patient’s specimens tested positive for Ebola on Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Tom Frieden said that the medical team’s priorities are to care for the patient, as well as to track down everyone the patient came in contact with while the patient was infectious. A patient with Ebola is only contagious once an infected person starts presenting symptoms. The CDC and Dallas Health and Human Services will identify all the contacts and monitor them for 21 days, which is the incubation period for the disease. If any of the contacts comes down with a fever, they will be isolated and cared for. The CDC says it has just started the contact tracing.

Frieden acknowledged that it’s possible someone with close contact with the patient could come down with the disease, but is confident the U.S. healthcare system can handle that possibility. “The bottom-line here is I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely,” said Frieden during a news conference.

The CDC said that they do not know how the individual was infected, but the patient must have had close contact with someone infected with the disease. The CDC is sending disease specialists to Texas. The CDC has long acknowledged that it’s possible for Ebola to reach the U.S., though concern for widespread infections is low given the quality of U.S. health care. “As long as the outbreak continues in Africa, we need to be on-guard,” Frieden said.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser