Doctors at a hospital in Dallas held a patient in medical isolation on Tuesday Sept. 30, 2014 as that person was quarantined for possible symptoms of Ebola, which were originally thought to have started on Sunday. That patient has now tested positive for Ebola and is in intensive care. USA Today confirmed statements from key healthcare officials – the patient had previously entered the hospital and was discharged with antibiotics.
Tuesday night, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said the patient was admitted based on Ebola like symptoms and his recent travel details were also a major contributing factor. But on a previous visit the patient did not show any symptoms of the virus.
On Sept. 24 2014 a triage nurse asked the unidentified patient about his medical visit, symptoms, and travel history. It was reported on USA Today that the patient “volunteered” information confirming that he recently arrived from West Africa – details were in response to the nurse asking him questions and completing a standard operational checklist.
Two days later he was released – only to return Sept. 28, 2014. This time the patient was infectious. Doctors immediately quarantined and placed him under close monitoring.
Officials at the hospital are concerned that the patient’s travel information was not communicated with other doctors on the medical team. Reports state that it was possibly overlooked due to a pending issue with the patient’s health insurance. At the time the insurance company and hospital were still determining whether to admit or release him as records were pending arrival to the hospital.
The hospital is currently following all instructions given by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Health Department in Dallas will make sure that the safety of all patients and staff is given focus. During a press conference by the CDC on Oct. 1, 2014, Director Dr. Tom Frieden confirmed that Ebola can only be spread through contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, and sweat.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama explained how important potentially infected Ebola patients cooperate with doctors to get properly quarantined. He also announced that the United States would offer medical and military assistance to combat the disease in West African countries. The disease has now reached epidemic proportions as doctors try to maintain the outbreak.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has documented more than 3,000 Ebola-related deaths from the outbreak-stricken West African region. The Ebola outbreak has spread to five countries: Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Senegal. Until recently, all cases were isolated to these areas, although there have been some patients who were sent to outside countries for treatment, including the American doctors who both received the experimental treatment and are doing well.
Obtaining accurate projections is extremely difficult. Current Ebola figures may be inaccurate due to a lag of the most recent cases that have not been reported. The WHO also stated that inaccurate or incomplete record tracking practices by West African hospitals are also contributing factors that lead to additional doubt in the true numbers of the death toll. The numbers in question are from January 2014 to before the outbreak occurred.
BBC News interviewed Liberia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bernice Dahn. Dahn is not only working to educate her nation and those infected with the virus, but has placed herself in voluntary quarantine at home after her assistant died from the disease. Even though Dahn did not come into physical contact with the assistant, her decision to isolate herself, she hopes, will prove to the Liberian people and other West African nations that the disease is manageable and should not be feared – but education and proper care for those infected is important. In a BBC News audio recording, Dahn explains to Liberians how she quarantined herself and how long it should take to see Ebola symptoms before admitting yourself to see doctors or medical experts.
By Carolette Wright