DALLAS (CN) - Texas and federal officials are urging calm as a patient in a Dallas hospital, recently returned from Liberia, was confirmed as the first domestic case of Ebola.
The unidentified man traveled from Liberia in West Africa on Sept. 20 and became ill in Dallas on Sept. 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
He sought treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 26. He was admitted to the hospital two days later after developing symptoms consistent with the infectious disease. He has been placed into isolation.
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Tuesday confirmed the man has Ebola, after performing tests on specimens in Austin. The CDC confirmed the results.
Although severe and often fatal, Ebola is difficult to transmit. It requires direct contact with blood, bodily fluids or contaminated needles. It is not spread through casual contact or through the air.
The virus is not contagious before symptoms appear, which include sudden fever, fatigue and headaches. The incubation period, between exposure and symptoms, can be from two to 21 days, state health DSH officials say.
CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden acknowledged that Ebola "can be scary," but said he had "no doubt" authorities will contain it in the United States.
"There's all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading," Frieden said at a news conference Tuesday. "The United States has a strong health care system and public health professional who make sure this case does not threaten our communities."
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is operating normally with no impact on care for other patients, the hospital's corporate parent Texas Health Resources said.
The hospital declined to release information on the patient without his consent.
The hospital said it is taking "every precaution" to protect hospital patients and are following "strict CDC protocols" in isolating the patient with Ebola.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told NBC-affiliate KXAS that the Dallas Fire-Rescue crew that transported the patient to Presbyterian has been placed in isolation, as well.
The confirmed case comes one week after a World Health Organization study warned that "swift action" against the disease was needed in West Africa to stop cases from "climbing exponentially." The study predicted as many as 20,000 more people may become infected by early November. More than 3,000 people have died in West Africa from the outbreak, the worst in history, according to the World Health Organization.
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