The first case of Ebola in a patient diagnosed in a U.S. hospital was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.
1.What are the chances that the Ebola virus will spread in the United States? Am I at risk?
The quality of medical care and facilities in the USA and Africa are completely different, said Thomas Geisbert, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
The areas where the outbreak has spread are “some of the poorest places on planet Earth,” Geisbert said.
In Africa, medical professionals sometimes don’t have the proper protective gear and over-run facilities are having to turn away patients, he said.
The virus is transmittedfrom wild animals to humans. Humans spread the virus through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person, as well as exposure to objects like contaminated needles, according to the CDC.
2. Is there a vaccine?
No, there is currently no vaccine but there are experimental treatments, consisting only of “supportive therapy,” according to the CDC. There are several vaccines being tested. None are available for clinical use.
3. Should the people who came in contact with the latest victim of Ebola on the plane or at the airport be concerned?
The CDC does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring. Ebola is contagious only if the person is experiencing active symptoms. But anyone concerned may call 800-CDC-INFO.
4. How well prepared are U.S. hospitals?
The U.S. has been upping surveillance and lab testing capacity in states. The government agency has been developing tools for health departments to hold public health investigations and giving recommendations for infection control.
The CDC has also been giving guidance to flight crews, Emergency Medical Service units at airports and Customs and Border Protection officers about how to report sick travelers to the agency.
5. How can the U.S. stop any potential spread of the outbreak?
The CDC says it can stem any potential spread thorough isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms, the agency said in a statement.
A man with Ebola in Dallas was initially sent home from the hospital with antibiotics after seeking treatment for an unknown illness, officials said.
The man, whose name wasn’t released, is the first case of the deadly viral infection to be diagnosed outside of Africa. He traveled from Liberia and arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.
The man is being kept in isolation in an intensive care unit. He had no symptoms when he left Liberia and began to show signs of the disease on Sept. 24, the CDC said. He sought care on Sept. 26, was hospitalized two days later at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and is critically ill, said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. The agency is working to identify anybody who had contact with the man and track them down, he said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here,” Frieden said at a press conference in Atlanta.
A CDC team of epidemiologists will follow anyone who has had contact with the man for 21 days, Frieden said. If they develop any symptoms, they’ll immediately be isolated, and public health officials will trace their contacts. The diagnosis was first confirmed by a Texas lab based on samples of the man’s blood and confirmed by the CDC.
The man was traveling to the U.S. to visit family and was staying with them. He was exposed to only a “handful” of people during the time when he had symptoms, including family members and possibly some community members, according to Frieden, who said there was little risk to anyone on his flight.
“Ebola doesn’t spread before someone gets sick, and he didn’t get sick until four days until after he got off the airplane,” Frieden said. “So we don’t believe there was any risk to anyone on the flight at that time.”
The patient wasn’t involved in helping contain the Ebola outbreak effort, according to Frieden, who declined to give further details on the man’s nationality or travels. CDC researchers said because Ebola is spread through human fluids, he had to have had close contact with someone in Liberia who had the disease or had recently died from it.
After the patient sought medical care on Sept. 26 and was sent home with antibiotics, he returned in an ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian two days later and was admitted, said Edward Goodman, an epidemiologist at the hospital. The ambulance workers and other health-care professionals who treated him are being monitored for symptoms, Goodman said.
The CDC and Texas doctors are discussing the use of possible experimental treatments, Frieden said, though no decision has been made.
President Barack Obama was briefed about the patient by Frieden, the White House said in a statement. They discussed the patient’s treatment and what was being done to trace the people the man might have contacted.
U.S. authorities didn’t disclose the flights or airlines the patient took from Liberia. No airlines serve Africa from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the main domestic and foreign gateway to North Texas, and none of the major U.S. carriers with overseas networks — American Airlines Group Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. — flies to Liberia. Delta dropped operations last month in Monrovia, the country’s capital.
That left open the possibility the traveler arrived in the U.S. from somewhere else in Africa or via a connection in Europe, and may have stopped elsewhere on a domestic flight before reaching Dallas.
Another suspected Ebola case is being evaluated at a National Institutes of Health facility, U.S. officials said, the 13th such possible infection in the U.S. All others have tested negative.
A traveler from Africa showing up in the U.S. with Ebola “is not at all surprising,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We are going to see more cases show up around the world.”
Osterholm said that while it is possible the patient may have infected other family members or close contacts before he was diagnosed, it is unlikely there will be any more people infected with Ebola in the U.S. as a result of the case, thanks to good infection control procedures here.
“There shouldn’t be any new infections from this point on,” Osterholm said. “We are going to shut this down.”
The Ebola outbreak has been concentrated in the West Africa countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The outbreak has infected 6,574 and killed 3,091 people so far, according to the World Health Organization. U.S. public health officials have been isolating and testing travelers who returned from the region with symptoms of the disease.
“This incident shows the vast differences between our health system and what’s available in West Africa,” said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease doctor and a former assistant commissioner in the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. “The patient was isolated quickly. By isolating the contacts, we can eliminate risk of further spread.”
Ebola has left Africa before, but only under controlled conditions. Aid workers who have fallen ill in the current outbreak have been flown to the U.S., the U.K., Spain and France for treatment. A researcher who fell ill in 1994 in Ivory Coast was taken to Switzerland for care.
At least three American aid workers who were diagnosed with Ebola in Africa during this outbreak were evacuated to U.S. hospitals, treated and discharged.
There is no approved treatment for Ebola, though drugmakers are attempting to develop vaccines or medicines that could be used in this or a future outbreak. Current care involves isolating the patient so they can’t infect others, and providing supportive treatment such as intravenous fluids and antibiotics to fight opportunistic infections.
U.S. health officials have downplayed the chance of a major outbreak of the disease in the U.S., saying the country’s superior medical infrastructure would be able to quickly isolate the disease.
“It’s not a potential of Ebola spreading widely in the U.S.,” Frieden said on a July 31 conference call with reporters. “That is not in the cards.”
U.S. and European governments have been criticized for being slow to respond to the situation in Africa, and much of fight against the outbreak has been conducted by missionary and charitable groups with personnel on the ground, including Doctors Without Borders, Samaritans Purse and SIM USA. The groups have said they are overwhelmed, don’t have enough beds to treat patients and the outbreak is rapidly growing out of control.
The U.S. Department of Defense has authorized sending 1,400 troops to Liberia to help fight Ebola in Western Africa, where the virus has crippled existing medical infrastructure.
The troops will supervise the construction of Ebola treatment units, conduct site surveys and provide engineering expertise, John Kirby, a press secretary for the department said yesterday at a news briefing. Half of the troops will come from the 101st Airborne Division while the remaining 700 will come from different parts of the Army.
The pledge to send troops was part of the U.S. effort to contain the spread of Ebola virus, and governments and international aid groups are sending money and personnel to help fight help outbreak. Leaders in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea urged the international community to do more to keep the epidemic, the worst in history, from killing their people and harming their economies.
When news broke that the first U.S. case of Ebola was being treated in Dallas, the Centers for Disease Control was quick to squash concerns about its possible spread.
“We’re stopping it in its tracks in this country,” Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declared during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, as The Washington Post reported. The unnamed patient is being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
So what’s Presbyterian like? The National Institutes of Health or “M*A*S*H*”? The equivalent of George Washington University Hospital or the now-shuttered D.C. General Hospital?
According to U.S. News and World Report: Generally speaking, Texas Presbyterian is a pretty okay hospital ranked No. 5 in Dallas and No. 15 in Texas that 79 percent of discharged patients would recommend to their family.
U.S. News ranked Presbyterian as “high-performing” in diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and G.I. surgery, geriatrics, nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics and urology. It was unranked by the magazine in cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, gynecology and pulmonology.
Infectious diseases and/or epidemiology were not mentioned.
The hospital is not-for-profit. It admitted more than 27,000 patients last year, and saw more than 411,000 as outpatients. It has a birthing room — and an infection isolation unit.
In Consumer Reports last year, Presbyterian was also rated average for overall surgery.
“Texas Health Dallas has a robust infection control system and our staff is trained and prepared to take care of patients with a variety of infectious diseases, including Ebola,” the Web site read. “Texas Health Dallas is following all federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) protocols, including isolating the patient and taking proper infection control precautions to avoid exposure and exposing others.”
The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola outside of Africa during the ongoing epidemic is being treated at a Dallas hospital. Federal and state health officials say the patient traveled from Liberia on Sept. 19. Here’s what we know about him and the risk to Americans:
Where did he come from?
The patient came from Liberia. He left Monrovia Sept. 19 and arrived in the United States Sept 20. Health officials won’t give many details about the patient, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden says he was visiting relatives who live in the United States. That might imply he’s not a U.S. citizen himself. Health officials also say he does not appear to have been a health worker, although they are double checking. The four Ebola patients evacuated to the U.S. for treatment have all been American doctors or medical missionaries.
Can he have infected anybody else?
Frieden says it’s possible, although not very many people would be at risk. “It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual … could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here,” Frieden said.
Frieden has been clear that no one on the flight to the united States would have been at risk because the patient wasn’t sick yet when he flew. The patient had been staying with family and not at a hotel, and in the affected countries in West Africa, family members, caregivers and health care workers who tend to patients have the highest risk of infection.
“We have identified all the people who could have had contact with the patient while he was infectious,” Frieden said. “It is only someone who is sick with Ebola who can spread the disease.”
And Ebola only spreads in bodily fluids, not in the air. “Ebola is a virus. It’s a virus that is easy to kill by washing your hands. It’s easy to stop by using gloves and barrier precautions,” Frieden said. “The issue is not that Ebola is highly infectious. The issue with Ebola is that the stakes are so high. People are infectious with Ebola when they are sick.”
How did he get infected?
CDC and Texas health officials are not giving details about the patient. But he would have to have been in close contact with someone who was sick with or died from Ebola in Liberia. Ebola spreads in bodily fluids such as blood, vomit or diarrhea. And those fluids have to get inside your body through the mouth, eyes or nose, or in a cut or via a needle stick. The virus doesn’t spread in the air and it cannot persist on surfaces like flu viruses can.
How long until we’re sure it’s not spreading?
Anyone who might have had direct contact with the patient after he started feeling sick — family members and health care workers, for example — will be watched for 21 days to make sure they don’t start to develop a fever or other symptoms. If they do, they’ll be immediately isolated and tested to make sure they don’t infect anyone else. People at highest risk will be asked to take their temperatures at least once a day.
The Dallas mayor’s office says the EMS crew members who transported the patient have been quarantined, just to be safe.
People infected with Ebola usually start to show symptoms within about eight days, but the longest known incubation period is 21 days. No one is known to have developed Ebola infection after that long a time.
Ebola’s been around for decades and doctors understand it pretty well. People do not infect others after they get better, and they do not seem to always be particularly infectious early on in the disease — when they first get a fever, for example. The virus has to build up in the body. The most infectious people are those just about to die or who have just died, which is why burying Ebola victims is especially dangerous.
Frieden said the patient left Liberia on an overnight flight Sept. 19. Frieden says there’s no chance he could have infected anybody on the flight because he would have been checked for fever before leaving Liberia and also when he arrived in the United States.
Can we be sure this won’t set off an epidemic in the U.S.?
Doctors are confident that Ebola cannot spread far in the U.S. People with Ebola get very sick very fast and it’s difficult to conceal, so they will almost certainly seek medical care. Hospitals and clinics know to look for the symptoms and staffers will take the right precautions right away — isolating the patient, wearing gloves, gown and mask and disposing of any potentially infected materials properly.
“We are stopping it in its tracks in this country,” Frieden said.
Ebola is spreading rapidly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and to a lesser degree in Guinea because people are not always following instructions for stopping the virus. People are also unable to get care because there is not enough space to isolate and treat them. Many infections have been linked to funeral practices or to people being forced to care for sick loved ones without any equipment to protect themselves, even basics such as soap and water.
In addition, CDC notes that an outbreak in Nigeria started by a Liberian-American man who traveled after he got sick has now been stopped. “During the outbreak, there were 19 laboratory-confirmed and one probable Ebola cases in two Nigerian states. Nearly 900 patient contacts were identified and followed; all but three have completed 21 days of follow-up period without Ebola symptoms,” CDC says.
“There have been no new cases since August 31 and the last three patient contacts will exit their 21-day follow-up on October 2 — strongly suggesting the outbreak in Nigeria has been contained.”
President Obama shared an elevator earlier this month with an armed security contractor who has three felony convictions relating to assault and battery, in the latest report of a serious violation of Secret Service security protocols.
Multiple sources confirmed to Fox News the incident, which took place in an elevator during Obama’s Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The incident was first reported by The Washington Post and the Washington Examiner.
The latest embarrassment for the Secret Service comes after agency Director Julia Pierson told lawmakers at a Tuesday hearing “she took full responsibility” for a Sept. 19 breach of the White House. Pierson admitted that presidential security fell apart when a knife-wielding intruder jumped a White House fence earlier this month and sprinted untouched across the lawn, entering the first family’s residence through an unlocked door and making his way into the East Room reception area.
According to the sources, the man involved in the elevator incident was working as a security officer at the CDC. Secret Service agents grew suspicious of him when he refused to stop taking a video of the president on his phone, and pulled the man aside for questioning.
A supervisor fired the contractor on the spot and the man turned over his gun. This surprised the agents, who had not realized the man was armed.
The Secret Service then ran a criminal check on the man, and discovered his criminal history.
A Secret Service official confirmed the incident to the Associated Press but declined to comment further, citing an ongoing investigation of the event.
It was unclear whether Obama was informed of the incident. However Pierson, under questioning at the hearing, said that she is the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and that she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told the Washington Post the incident was inexcusable.
“You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president and they never did a background check,” Chaffetz said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family.”
Chaffetz added: “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”
Pierson faced heated questioning from bipartisan lawmakers at the House oversight hearing, who voiced deep skepticism about the state of the agency and the first family’s safety.
At the close of the public portion of the hearing, Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said an internal investigation is “not sufficient” and he would be working with colleagues to request an independent probe.
The incident is the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for the agency since a 2012 prostitution scandal erupted during a presidential visit to Colombia.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
June 20, 2014: The Centers for Disease Control sign is seen at its main facility in Atlanta, Georgia. (Reuters)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case diagnosed in the United States.
The patient left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. It’s the first patient to be diagnosed with this particular strain of Ebola outside of Africa.
“[The patient] had no symptoms when departing Liberia or entering this country. But four or five days later on the 24th of September, he began to develop symptoms,” said Frieden.
The patient, who was in the U.S. visiting family in Texas, initially sought care on September 26, but was sent home and was not admitted until two days later. He was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where he remains critically ill, according to Frieden.
“The next steps are basically threefold,” said Frieden. “First, to care for the patient … to provide the most effective care possible as safely as possible to keep to an absolute minimum the likelihood or possibility that anyone would become affected, and second, to maximize the chances that the patient might recover,” said Frieden.
Frieden said the CDC and Texas health officials were working to identify and monitor anyone who may have come in contact with the patient.
“It’s only someone who’s sick with Ebola who can spread the disease,” said Frieden. “Once those contacts are all identified, they’re all monitored for 21 days after exposure to see if they develop a fever.”
Frieden added that while it is possible that someone who had contact with the patient could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, he has no doubt the infection will be contained. At this point, he said, there is zero risk of transmission to anyone on the flight with the patient because he was not showing any symptoms at the time of travel.
It’s unclear how the patient became infected, but health officials said he “undoubtedly had close contact with someone who was sick with Ebola or who had died from it.”
The patient will stay at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for treatment, where epidemiologist Dr. Edward Goodman, said medical staff have a plan in place for some time now in the event that a traveler brought Ebola to the United States, noting that the team had a crisis preparedness meeting just one week before the patient arrived at the facility.
Hospital officials are currently evaluating different treatment options, including experimental therapies which have been successful in other patients, according to Frieden.
Both the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services performed lab testing that is said to be highly accurate for detecting the Ebola virus disease.
“Our lab has a specially trained team to handle high-risk patients like this,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of Texas Department of State Health Services. “We have no other suspected cases in the state of Texas at this time.”
Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services urged residents to rest assured the agency was doing everything they could to ensure the safety of the community, and that they would be working closely with the CDC and local health officials to follow up and track possible contacts of the patient.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas officials said in a statement Monday that an unnamed patient was being tested for Ebola and had been placed in “strict isolation” due to the patient’s symptoms and recent travel history, and that the facility was taking measures to keep its doctors, staff and patients safe.
The hospital had announced a day earlier that the patient’s symptoms and recent travel indicated a case of Ebola, the virus that has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa and infected a handful of Americans who have traveled to that region.
The CDC has said 12 other people in the U.S. have been tested for Ebola since July 27. Those tests came back negative.
Four American aid workers who have become infected while volunteering in West Africa have been treated in special isolation facilities in hospitals in Atlanta and Nebraska, and a U.S. doctor exposed to the virus in Sierra Leone is under observation in a similar facility at the National Institutes of Health.
The U.S. has only four such isolation units but the CDC has insisted that any hospital can safely care for someone with Ebola.
According to the CDC, Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus.
Jason McDonald, spokesman for the CDC, said health officials use two primary guidelines when deciding whether to test a person for the virus.
“The first and foremost determinant is have they traveled to the region (of West Africa),” he said. The second is whether there’s been proximity to family, friends or others who’ve been exposed, he said.
U.S. health officials have been preparing since summer in case an individual traveler arrived here unknowingly infected, telling hospitals what infection-control steps to take to prevent the virus from spreading in health facilities. People boarding planes in the outbreak zone are checked for fever, but symptoms can begin up to 21 days after exposure. Ebola isn’t contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.
Frieden said there may be a handful of potential patient contacts who need monitoring in the United States. He compared that with the nearly 900 contacts who were monitored when an infected patient brought the Ebola virus to Lagos in July, reiterated his confidence in health officials’ ability to control the disease.
“The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely throughout this country,” Frieden said. “There’s no doubt in my mind, we will stop it here.”
The Associated Press and FoxNews.com’s Colleen Cappon contributed to this report.
The first Ebola case has been diagnosed in the United States, but a top health official said today there is “no doubt… we will stop it here.”
Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the patient left Liberia on Sept 10 and arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20. The patient sought medical help on Sept. 27 and was put in isolation on Sept. 28, Frieden said.
Tests confirming the Ebola diagnosis came back today. The White House said President Obama was briefed about the patient by Frieden.
Frieden stressed that the patient was not sick on departure from Liberia or upon arrival in the U.S. and the disease can only be contracted by someone exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
Frieden said he was confident there would not be an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.
“There is no doubt in my mind we will stop it here,” he said.
He later added that Ebola is a “scary disease,” but vowed, “We are stopping it in its tracks in this country.”
Although American Ebola patients have been treated in the United States prior to this diagnosis, they all contracted Ebola in West Africa. Ebola has killed 2,917 people and infected 3,346 others since the outbreak began in March.
Frieden declined to identify the patient other than to say, “The individual was here to visit family who live in this country.” Frieden later indicated the patient was male when he modified the comment to say, “He was visiting family members and staying with family members who live in this country.”
Health officials are tracking down the patient’s close contacts to determine whether they contracted the virus, Frieden said.
LM Otero/AP Photo
PHOTO: The stairway seen leads to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Sept. 30, 2014.
Dr. Edward Goodman, head epidemiologist at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, said he could not reveal information about the patient’s symptoms or treatment, but said that “he is ill and he is under intensive care.”
Frieden said possible experimental therapies are being discussed with the family and may be announced later.
Ebola is spread via contact with bodily fluids, such as blood and urine, but it is not contagious unless Ebola symptoms are present, the state health department said. Symptoms can take between two and 21 days to appear after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC.
This has been the worst Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. More people have died from Ebola since March than in every other Ebola outbreak to date combined, according to data from the World Health Organization.
Last week, the CDC released a report saying that without the proper intervention, the Ebola outbreak could reach 1.4 million cases by the end of January. But if 70 percent of Ebola patients are placed in Ebola treatment centers or home settings that reduce transmission by December, the outbreak could be nearly over by the end of January, according to the CDC. Every month intervention is delayed means more cases and a slower stop to the outbreak.
PHOTO: CDC Director Tom Frieden holds a press conference on a recent Ebola case found in the United States, Sept. 30, 2014, in Atlanta.
Federal health officials on Tuesday confirmed the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., a patient who recently traveled from Liberia to Dallas and a sign of the far-reaching impact of the out-of-control epidemic in West Africa.
The unidentified patient was critically ill and has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since Sunday, officials said.
Health authorities have begun tracking down family and friends who may have had close contact with the patient and could be at risk for becoming ill. But officials said there are no other suspected cases in Texas.
At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden said the patient left Liberia on Sept. 19, arrived the next day to visit family and started feeling ill four or five days later. He said it was not clear how the person became infected.
Frieden said there was no risk to anyone on the airplane because the patient had no symptoms at the time of the flight.
Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus. The disease is not contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.
“The bottom line here is that I have no doubt we will control this importation, or this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country,” Frieden told a news conference.
“It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual, a family member or other individual, could develop Ebola in the coming weeks,” he added. “But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here.”
Frieden updated President Barack Obama on the patient and the public health investigation, the White House said.
Frieden said he believed the case also marked the first time this strain of Ebola has been diagnosed outside of West Africa.
Four American aid workers who became infected while volunteering in West Africa have been flown back to the U.S. for treatment after they became sick. They were cared for in special isolation facilities at hospitals in Atlanta and Nebraska. Also, a U.S. doctor exposed to the virus in Sierra Leone is under observation in a similar facility at the National Institutes of Health.
The U.S. has only four such isolation units. But asked whether the patient would be moved to one of those specialty facilities, Frieden said there was no need and virtually any hospital can provide the proper care and infection control.
Dr. Edward Goodman, epidemiologist for Texas Health Presbyterian, said the hospital had a plan for handling Ebola should a suspected case emerge and was “well prepared” to provide care.
After arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20, the patient began to develop symptoms on Sept. 24 and initially sought care two days later, Frieden said. The patient was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 28, when Texas Health Presbyterian put him under strict isolation. Blood tests by Texas health officials and the CDC separately confirmed an Ebola diagnosis on Tuesday.
Frieden would not reveal the patient’s nationality.
Asked how many people the patient may have had close contact with in that time period, Frieden said, “I think a handful is the right characterization.”
Since the summer months, U.S. health officials have been preparing for the possibility that an individual traveler could unknowingly arrive with the infection. Health authorities have advised hospitals on how to prevent the virus from spreading within their facilities.
People boarding planes in the outbreak zone are checked for fever, but that does not guarantee that an infected person won’t get through. Liberia is one of the three hardest-hit countries in the epidemic, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea. The epidemic has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa.
WASHINGTON — Secret Service Director Julia Pierson took a political bullet Tuesday, saying she bears “full responsibility” for the shocking security lapse that allowed a fence jumper to get deep inside the White House.
“It’s unacceptable and I will make sure that it does not happen again,” Preston told angry members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Iraq War veteran Omar Gonzalez, who was armed with a knife, breached at least ‘five rings’ of security in making it all the way to the entrance of the Green Room of the White House in the Sept. 19 incident.
Members of the Republican-led committee were searing in their criticism of the Secret Service’s leadership.
And members of both parties told Pierson, who became Secret Service Director in 2013, that they lacked confidence in her. although they stopped short of demanding her ouster.
“The White House complex is supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the country, if not the world,” Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in his prepared remarks. “So, how on earth did this happen?”
“Whether deficient procedures, insufficient training, personnel shortages, or low morale contributed to the incident, this can never happen again,” he said.
Pierson disclosed that at least two uniformed Secret Service officers recognized Gonzalez just before he scaled the fence from an earlier encounter, but they never approached him or reported him to superiors.
They remembered him from an Aug. 25 incident, when he was stopped near the White House fence and was found with a hatchet, Pierson said. But because he “had not violated any laws, he had to be released” at that time, she testified.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the panel’s Homeland Security Subcommittee, bashed the Secret Service for issuing a press release that praised its “tremendous restraint” in not shooting Gonzalez in the Sept. 19 incident. That message projected “weakness” and invited future attacks, he said.
“The message should be overwhelming force,” he said. “If they take action that is lethal, I will have their back.”
Pierson responded that the Secret Service “did use restraint in making a very difficult decision.” She said the problem was that the agency’s security plan for the building was not properly executed.
While vowing a full review of how Gonzalez penetrated the building, Pierson defended the agency, which she claimed is 550 agents below its intended personnel level due to budget cuts.
In the last five years, the agency has apprehended 16 people who scaled the White House fence, including six this year alone, she said.
Lawmakers also cited the ability of Michaele and Tareq Salahi to crash a 2009 White House State Dinner; incidents in Colombia and the Netherlands in which agents drunkenly consorted with prostitutes; and the failure of the Secret Service to realize for several days in 2011 that bullets fired by a gunman hit the White House, including the living quarters.
The panel’s senior Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said he was especially worried that Secret Service agents said they were “hesitant to raise security concerns with supervisors” after the 2011 incident.
Pierson confirmed that Gonzalez ran through the North Portico’s front doors, into the East Room and near the doors to the Green Room before being apprehended. He passed stairs leading to the Obama family’s residence a floor above.
The First Family was not in the mansion at the time; President Obama and his daughters had left minutes earlier for Camp David.
“I’m worried that over the last several years, security has gotten worse — not better,” Chaffetz said on Monday.
“I’ve got deep concerns because the President is not as safe as we need him to be.”
In the hours after the incident, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said Gonzalez had been apprehended just inside the front doors of the White House, a statement which later proved to be false.
The agency also said that night that the Army veteran had been unarmed — an assertion that was revealed to be false the next day, when officials acknowledged Gonzalez had a knife with him when he was apprehended.
The Secret Service declined to comment in advance of the hearing on the new details of the embarrassing security breach.
Senate Judiciary Committee staffers who were briefed about the investigation by the administration a week after the incident were never told how far Gonzalez made it into the building, according to a congressional official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the investigation and requested anonymity. The official said the committee later was told that the suspect had, indeed, made it far beyond the front door.
Pierson’s predecessor, Mark J. Sullivan, apologized to lawmakers in 2012 after details emerged of a night of debauchery involving 13 Secret Service agents and officers in advance of the president’s arrival at a summit in Colombia. Sullivan retired about 10 months later.