The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States is “fighting for his life” in a Dallas hospital, according to a federal health official who voiced confidence that the infection would not spread broadly to other people.
Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thomas Eric Duncan remained in critical condition as officials were closely monitoring people with whom the patient had been in contact for signs of the infection, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
“There’s no doubt that we can stop Ebola in this country,” Frieden told CNN’s State of the Union program.
Duncan’s condition worsened from serious to critical Saturday afternoon, the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas where he is being treated said.
Duncan became ill after arriving in the Texas city from Liberia two weeks ago, heightening concerns that the worst Ebola epidemic on record could spread from West Africa, where it began in March, Reuters said.
The outbreak has killed at least 3,400 people out of the nearly 7,500 probable, suspected and confirmed cases, according to the news agency.
Frieden said experimental drugs were not being used to treat Duncan as such drugs “can be quite difficult for patients to take and may transiently worsen their condition”, according to the Post.
Officials have been monitoring about 50 people who may have come into contact with Duncan to see whether they develop a fever. They will be monitored for 21 days, Frieden was quoted as saying.
In Massachusetts, Richard Sacra, a doctor who was recently successfully treated for Ebola, was in stable condition in a hospital after he showed symptoms that appeared to be related to an upper respiratory tract infection, the newspaper quoted a physician treating him as saying.
“Dr. Sacra remains in isolation until we can confirm with the CDC that he has no Ebola virus,” said Robert Finberg, who is leading Sacra’s team of doctors. Doctors have sent blood work to the CDC to rule out Ebola.
Sacra contracted the virus while working in Liberia. He was treated for the infection in Nebraska last month.
A recurring case of Ebola would be “extraordinarily unlikely”, Frieden told ABC’s This Week news program.
“We’ve never seen that,” he said. “But we’re not going to take chances. So we’ll test and — and we’ll see. Time will tell.”
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