Ebola in the US: Critically ill man was first sent home from hospital with antibiotics

US health officials believe a 'handful' of people will have been exposed

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The first person to be diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus on US soil was sent home from hospital with antibiotics before the severity of his case was realised.

The unnamed man, who was visiting family in the US from Liberia, presented himself at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Friday because he was feeling ill.

Dr Edward Goodman, an epidemiologist at the Dallas hospital, said the man’s symptoms at the time were “nondescript” and he was sent home with the medication, claiming that “at that time, he wasn’t that ill”.

The man’s condition deteriorated over the next two days and an ambulance was called to admit him to hospital on Sunday, where he is now reportedly critically ill and being treated in a glass-walled room on the intensive care unit. Dr Goodman said hospital staff are following protocol for the treatment of the disease by wearing gowns, gloves, and shoe and eye protection, adding that he does not believe other patients or hospital workers have been put at risk of exposure to the virus.

“We’re perfectly capable of taking care of this patient with no risk to other people,” he said.

It is understood that the man will not be treated with the experimental Zmapp drug however, as the supplies have been exhausted.

Ebola_US.jpgDr Tom Frieden, director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the man arrived in the US on 19 September, but did not develop symptoms of the virus on 24 September.

“I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the US. But I also have no doubt that – as long as the outbreak continues in Africa – we need to be on our guard,” he said.

“But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here,” he added.

He said it is likely that a “handful” of people in the US have been exposed to the virus, including the family members that he was staying with, but did not believe people travelling on his the flight from Liberia to the US are at risk.

“Ebola doesn’t spread before someone gets sick and he didn’t get sick until four days after he got off the airplane,” Dr Frieden said.

The ambulance the man was transferred in has reportedly been quarantined with the paramedics who attended him being kept in isolation in their homes to see if they develop the symptoms for Ebola.

Police have begun tracking down family, friends and anyone else who may have come into close contact with the man and who could be at risk.