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Washington DC-Area Hospital Admits Possible Ebola Case

  • VOA News

A worker powerwashes sidewalk in front The Ivy Apartments, where a man diagnosed with the Ebola virus was staying, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 2, 2014.

A worker powerwashes sidewalk in front The Ivy Apartments, where a man diagnosed with the Ebola virus was staying, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 2, 2014.

A patient with Ebola-like symptoms has been admitted to a Washington, D.C. hospital.

Howard University Hospital Spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton said Friday that a patient who recently traveled to Nigeria was in stable condition. She said medical authorities have isolated the patient and "activated the appropriate infection control protocols."

Meanwhile, the Dallas County health director in Dallas, Texas, said the situation surrounding the first U.S. diagnosis of Ebola virus is "under control," despite the quarantine of four people and the monitoring of close to 100 others.

A hazardous-material crew in Dallas has entered the apartment where four family members of an Ebola patient have been quarantined for several days. The crew is expected to remove soiled linens and other items used by the Ebola patient, Liberian national Thomas Duncan, before he entered a Dallas hospital on Sunday.

Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said that of the 100 people contacted, about 50 are now being observed daily for symptoms of the deadly virus.

Of those 50, about 10 are considered at high risk, while the rest are considered at low risk, Lakey added.

Dr. Beth Bell of the CDC told reporters Friday that officials are being "extremely cautious" with those contacts but added that such caution does not imply "a high level of concern."

The White House reiterated Friday that it has no plans to introduce a travel ban to keep Ebola from reaching the United Sates. "There is in place a very sophisticated, multi-layered screening system ... to ensure the traveling public is safe," spokesman Josh Earnest said on Air Force One as President Obama was traveling to Indiana for a steel mill visit. Earnest added that U.S. customs and border control officers have been trained to identify travelers with symptoms of Ebola when they land.

'There is no outbreak'

Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson said on U.S. television Friday that "there is no outbreak" of Ebola and said the situation is under control. He told CNN that Texans should relax and allow health officials to respond to the issue.

Duncan, the Liberian national who was diagnosed with Ebola on Sunday after traveling from Liberia to the United States, remained isolated in serious but stable condition at a Dallas hospital.

Four of his family members, including several children, are under enforced quarantine at their Dallas apartment.

Liberian officials say they will prosecute Duncan, who arrived in Texas on September 20, for allegedly lying on an airport travel form when he was asked if he had any contact with an Ebola victim. Duncan is reported to have answered "no," even though he helped a pregnant Ebola victim into a taxi.

And, in Liberia, a U.S. cameraman working for NBC News has contracted Ebola. The network says it is flying the entire news crew back to the United States. They will be placed under a 21-day quarantine.

WHO report; US response

The World Health Organization reports that more than 3,400 people have died and over 7,400 infected with Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The U.S. State Department says it would be "counter-productive" to limit visas for people traveling from affected West African countries. In a press briefing Friday, spokesperson Jen Psaki said visas "are adjudicated...on a case-by case basis" with the safety and security of the United States as the top priority.

Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security, Health Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health were to take part in the briefing, the White House said.

The U.S. Pentagon now says that it could deploy as many as 4,000 troops in West Africa to help contain the Ebola outbreak there.

At a briefing on Friday, Rear Admiral John Kirby said, "We're obviously assessing the requirements on a daily basis. It may not go that high."

Kirby also indicated the number of troops could go up. President Obama had said initially that 3,000 would go to Africa to fight the disease. About 200 U.S. soldiers are already in Liberia, setting up headquarters for the U.S. mission, which will train health care workers and set up medical facilities.

The United Nations launched a mission Thursday to help prevent the spread of the disease. Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), began a tour of the three Ebola-stricken nations with a visit to the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

Banbury says the only way to end the crisis is to "end every last case of the virus and eliminate the risk of transmission."

The virus causes uncontrollable bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea. It is spread by direct contact with the body fluids of infected patients.

There is no specific treatment, but an American doctor diagnosed with the virus was found to be Ebola-free after taking an experimental drug in August.

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters.

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