Another Liberian man identified as Eric Thomas Duncan is the second so far months after the late Patrick Sawyer exported Ebola to Nigeria, to be diagnosed with the deadly virus days upon his arrival in the US.
Mr. Duncan, according to a Liberian magazine TMZ, is said to have travelled to the United States on an immigrant visa through his wife who is an American citizen.
The victim left Liberia on the 19th of September and arrived in the United States the next day. He started to show signs of the virus four days after he arrived in the US.
The wife of the victim is said to have lived in the US for almost 15 years before sending for her husband to join her in Texas.
The magazine reports that there are about five children residing in the home of the victim, adding, it is suspected that Mr. Duncan may have known that he was infected with the virus, but failed to disclose detail information to hospital staff.
It was also confirmed that the victim visited the hospital numerous times before the symptom was detected.
U.S. health experts in Dallas were said to be taking stock on Wednesday of how many people may have been exposed to Ebola, just a day after Duncan was diagnosed in the United States, the nation’s top public health official said.
The review comes even as health officials in Texas said healthcare workers tested negative for the virus and there were no other suspected cases in the state. Health officials confirmed the first case of the virus in the United States on Tuesday.
“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.
Frieden said experts were monitoring “a handful” of people who were potentially exposed through physical contact with the patient. Officials were looking at family members the patient visited, as well as healthcare providers who helped treat him.
Dallas city officials on Wednesday said the three ambulance crew members who transported the man tested negative for the virus, although they were quarantined and would be closely monitored for the next 21 days, the amount of time it can take for symptoms to appear. Texas state health officials, in a post on Twitter, said there were no other suspected cases of Ebola at this time, reports say.
“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.
Meanwhile, reports say the Liberian community in Dallas have been alarmed by the news that one of their compatriots who flew there has been tested positive of the virus. On Tuesday, they learned the virus is now in Dallas.
“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,” said Carolyn Woahloe, head of the local Liberian Nurses Association.
The mission for doctors and health officials in North Texas is to now keep Ebola from spreading. According to the president of the Liberian Community Association of DFW, there are between 5,000 and 10,000 Liberians in North Texas. Many of them travel back and forth from their home country often.
The President of the LCADFW told NBC 5 he does not personally know the Dallas Ebola patient, but the group is planning an informational meeting to let the public know about the need to seek medical help if anyone had contact with the patient.
“Whoever came in contact with this family of ours, they just don’t need to be afraid. They just need to go to the hospital, [and] say, ‘Hey, I was there. I greeted him.’ Just go get checked out, the family and friends and everyone else who came in contact with him,” said Woahloe.
But the Liberian Government in a statement issued here on Wednesday said Mr. Duncan had posed no risk to other travelers. The Liberian Government says it is led to believe that Duncan was diagnosed Ebola positive upon arrival in the United States had “posed no risks to other passengers or the crew with whom he travelled.”
“As such, consistent with the findings of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are led to believe that he posed no risks to other passengers or the crew with whom he travelled,” a government statement said on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
It said unlike the case of the late American-Liberian man Patrick Sawyer, who had travelled to neighboring Nigeria chronically down with the deadly Ebola virus and spread it there before his death, this unknown traveler from Liberia was only discovered sickened of Ebola just days after arriving in the United States.
“As we are also discovering, it was only days after his arrival in the United States that the disease was manifested,” the Liberian Government said.
In a statement authored by Deputy Information Minister for Press and Public Affairs Attorney Isaac Jackson, the government says it is monitoring stringent screening measures in place at the Roberts International Airport, Liberia’s main airport. Liberia’s Information Minister Mr. Lewis Brown expressed government’s concerns and regrets that an individual travelling from Liberia was diagnosed with Ebola after arrival in the United States.
Minister Brown said currently there are stringent screening measures in place at the Roberts International Airport, which “we believe are preventing the disease from spreading via air travel. We monitor these screening programs regularly.”
But he said it is understood here that the Liberian travels tests at the RIA, like all others who are being permitted to travel, including on the 19th of September, showed Ebola carrier manifested no signs of fever or symptoms of the virus. “We also have every faith that the United States authorities will successfully contain this latest case so it remains an isolated incident,” he said.
The government finally said what this incident demonstrates is the clear international dimension of this Ebola crisis to which many have eloquently spoken and for which the resources of the world [are] being mobilized to avert.
For months now, Minister Brown said the Liberian Government has been stressing that this disease is not simply a Liberian or West African problem; and said instead that the entire international community has a stake in defeating Ebola.
“Together, we will win the fight against the deadly Ebola Virus Disease,” he concluded.