BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Growing concerns throughout the U.S. over the deadly Ebola virus. This, as we’re learning just how many people have been exposed to the virus from the first person diagnosed on U.S. soil.
Derek Valcourt has more on the rapidly developing situation in Texas and the precautions being taken right here in Maryland.
A lot of people are understandably concerned as officials in Texas scramble to get a handle on the situation there. Meanwhile, medical staff right here in Maryland are training and bracing for some serious “what-ifs.”
Liberian authorities say before Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan flew to the United States he reportedly lied on a questionnaire about having family members with the deadly disease. The country’s president has indicated Duncan may be prosecuted when he returns.
“The fact that he knew and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said.
The Centers for Disease Control is now monitoring as many as 18 people, including five children who had direct contact with Duncan. Dallas health officials say those people have had contact with about 80 others. The three paramedics who treated Duncan are also in isolation as a precaution.
CDC officials believe Duncan flew United Flight 951 on September 20 from Brussels to Dulles Airport. From there, he took United Flight 822 to Dallas Fort Worth.
“It’s possible that somebody could come to Maryland in the same way and potentially have Ebola. So we need to be prepared for that,” said Dr. David Blythe,” Maryland state epidemiologist.
State health officials held a press conference to assure Maryland is ready to identify and treat Ebola patients and protect the rest of the population.
Hospitals, including the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, say they’ve been preparing and training their staff for months on how to properly identify any potential Ebola patients.
“We have worked through all the kinks of how you would deal with a patient, but perhaps as importantly, how you would prevent the transmission to other patients,” said Dr. Anthony Harris, University of Maryland Medical Center.
Maryland State Health Lab is one of a select few in the country able to do thorough Ebola testing. But officials say, so far, no one in Maryland has even risen to the level of needing to be tested for the disease.
As for Duncan, he remains in isolation in a Texas hospital in serious but stable condition. Neighbors in Liberia believe he may have contracted the disease when he was helping an infected pregnant woman get to a medical facility. She later died.
Ebola can only be spread through contact with the body fluids of an infected person who is showing symptoms.
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