US hunts contacts of seriously ill Ebola patient

US health officials scoured the Dallas area on Wednesday for people – including schoolchildren – who came in contact with a Liberian man diagnosed with Ebola.

More people may have been exposed to the contagious man after he first sought treatment on Sept 25.

It is because an apparent miscommunication among staff resulted in his release back into the community for several days, Texas hospital officials admitted.

Ebola is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, and can only be transmitted when a patient is showing symptoms like fever, aches, bleeding, vomiting or diarrhoea.

The man — the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola on US soil — flew from Liberia, the hardest-hit nation in West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak, and arrived in Texas  on Sept 20 to visit family.

He fell ill on Sept 24.

Sent home

He went to the hospital the next day but was sent home because the medical team “felt clinically it was a low-grade common viral disease,” said Mark Lester, executive vice-president of Texas Health Resources. 

Mr Lester added: “He volunteered that he had travelled from Africa in response to the nurse operating the checklist and asking that question.” 

 A private security guard patrols area near the Ivy Apartments, where the confirmed Ebola virus patient was staying.

A private security guard patrolling the area near the Ivy Apartments, where the confirmed Ebola virus patient was staying.  

The patient is currently in serious but stable condition.

He came in contact with five schoolchildren before he returned via ambulance to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on Sept 28, and was placed in strict isolation.

Source: AFP