The presence of another Ebola patient in the continental United States this one, in Texas, being a man who contracted the disease in Liberia, got on a plane to Dallas without showing symptoms, and became symptomatic after he arrived is sending evening news broadcasters into a tizzy. And the local angle here is that Bay Area hospitals are now "gearing up for the possibility of an Ebola patient walking through their doors," as ABC 7 reports.
The Regional Medical Center of San Jose, we're told, has its existing isolation units ready. And its screening procedures for patients arriving with a fever or any other such symptoms include asking the patient if they've traveled to West Africa recently. This turns out to be a question that was asked of our Patient Zero, Liberian-born Thomas Eric Duncan, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital when he first took himself to their ER last week, only the fact that he'd been to West Africa was not communicated by one nurse to other staff members, and, stupidly, Duncan was sent home with some antibiotics.
As the Examiner reports, Duncan left Liberia to visit the U.S. on September 19th, flew through Brussels and Washington, D.C., and landed at Dallas-Fort Worth on Saturday September 20th. He did not fall ill until September 24th. Ebola has an incubation period of 21 days, and Dr. Tom Frieden of the CDC explains, "Even in the initial phases of illness, when [a patient's] got a fever, the most sensitive tests in the world don't detect [Ebola] because there's so little virus that they have. It's only as they become sicker that they become more infectious." As CNN notes, Duncan's temperature was normal when he left Liberia. So far, no one with whom he had contact in the U.S. has shown symptoms.
In positive news, three out of four American aid workers who were infected with the disease and flown back to the U.S. for treatment have recovered via the use of experimental drug ZMapp, the latest being Dr. Rick Sacra of Massachusetts. As the AP reports, a fourth is still being treated in Atlanta. Also a British man infected with Ebola who was also given the drug was released from the hospital earlier this month.
To be clear: No one in the Bay Area has tested positive for Ebola. Per the Examiner, "The CDC has received 94 inquiries from states about illnesses that initially were suspected to be Ebola... [And of] the 13 people who actually underwent testing, only one -- the Dallas patient -- tested positive."
Get scared everyone! Or don't.