Review Category : Health

Texas Ebola Patient Not Receiving Experimental Medication

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., is not being treated with experimental medication, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

Doctors treating Duncan fear that the experimental medication may worsen his condition, CDC Director Tom Frieden said. Duncan is instead only receiving supportive care.

David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, also said that Duncan’s medical condition had worsened. Doctors downgraded his condition from serious to critical on Saturday.

Duncan is being treated in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Authorities in Dallas on Sunday located a homeless individual, Michael Lively, believed to be at “low risk” for exposure after possible contact with Duncan. He will be taken to Parkland Hospital.

Health officials are also monitoring about 50 people who may have had contact with Duncan, including 9 believed to be at “high risk” for exposure.

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Texas Ebola Patient Not Receiving Experimental Medication

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., is not being treated with experimental medication, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

Doctors treating Duncan fear that the experimental medication may worsen his condition, CDC Director Tom Frieden said. Duncan is instead only receiving supportive care.

David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, also said that Duncan’s medical condition had worsened. Doctors downgraded his condition from serious to critical on Saturday.

Duncan is being treated in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Authorities in Dallas on Sunday located a homeless individual, Michael Lively, believed to be at “low risk” for exposure after possible contact with Duncan. He will be taken to Parkland Hospital.

Health officials are also monitoring about 50 people who may have had contact with Duncan, including 9 believed to be at “high risk” for exposure.

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Former Ebola Patient Dr. Rick Sacra Hospitalized

iStock/Thinkstock(WORCESTER, Mass.) — Dr. Rick Sacra, a family physician from Massachusetts who survived Ebola, was readmitted to a hospital Saturday with what doctors said appears to be an upper respiratory infection.

UMass Memorial Medical Center physicians said they believe it is likely Sacra is not suffering a relapse of Ebola, but in the interest of safety they are isolating him until they have confirmation.

Sacra, 51, underwent treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center after contracting the deadly virus while treating patients in Liberia. He was released on Sept. 26.

“Even though the likelihood of Dr. Sacra having a relapse of Ebola is extremely low, doctors will run tests to be 100 percent sure,” Dr. Phil Smith, who treated Sacra in Nebraska, told ABC News affiliate WCVB in Boston. “The symptoms he has are indicative of a respiratory illness and are not those of someone suffering from Ebola.”

“Dr. Sacra is in stable condition and being monitored carefully. We’re waiting for final test results from the CDC which we expect to receive late Monday,” said Dr. Robert Finberg, MD, professor and chair of medicine, UMass Memorial Medical Center, an infectious disease expert leading Dr. Sacra’s team of doctors.

“We are isolating Dr. Sacra to be cautious pending final confirmation of his illness,” Finberg said. “We think it is highly unlikely that he has Ebola. We suspect he has an upper respiratory tract infection, with symptoms of cough and conjunctivitis.”

Sacra was the third of four American health workers who have been brought to the U.S. after being infected with Ebola, since the outbreak started in West Africa in March.

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Former Ebola Patient Dr. Rick Sacra Hospitalized

iStock/Thinkstock(WORCESTER, Mass.) — Dr. Rick Sacra, a family physician from Massachusetts who survived Ebola, was readmitted to a hospital Saturday with what doctors said appears to be an upper respiratory infection.

UMass Memorial Medical Center physicians said they believe it is likely Sacra is not suffering a relapse of Ebola, but in the interest of safety they are isolating him until they have confirmation.

Sacra, 51, underwent treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center after contracting the deadly virus while treating patients in Liberia. He was released on Sept. 26.

“Even though the likelihood of Dr. Sacra having a relapse of Ebola is extremely low, doctors will run tests to be 100 percent sure,” Dr. Phil Smith, who treated Sacra in Nebraska, told ABC News affiliate WCVB in Boston. “The symptoms he has are indicative of a respiratory illness and are not those of someone suffering from Ebola.”

“Dr. Sacra is in stable condition and being monitored carefully. We’re waiting for final test results from the CDC which we expect to receive late Monday,” said Dr. Robert Finberg, MD, professor and chair of medicine, UMass Memorial Medical Center, an infectious disease expert leading Dr. Sacra’s team of doctors.

“We are isolating Dr. Sacra to be cautious pending final confirmation of his illness,” Finberg said. “We think it is highly unlikely that he has Ebola. We suspect he has an upper respiratory tract infection, with symptoms of cough and conjunctivitis.”

Sacra was the third of four American health workers who have been brought to the U.S. after being infected with Ebola, since the outbreak started in West Africa in March.

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Passenger Who Showed Possible Ebola Symptoms Does Not Have Disease

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) –A passenger who was taken off a flight from Brussels to Newark, New Jersey, Saturday after his sickness triggered fear that he might have Ebola does not have the deadly disease, officials said.

United Airlines Flight 998 was met by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials at Newark Liberty International Airport and the passenger, who was believed to be from Liberia, and his daughter were removed from the plane by a CDC crew in full hazmat gear. They were taken to University Hospital in Newark for testing.

“After an examination by physicians at University Hospital, the symptoms of one individual were found to be consistent with another, minor treatable condition unrelated to Ebola,” University Hospital spokeswoman Donna Leusner said. “The second individual, who was traveling with the patient, was asymptomatic. The two individuals will be released with self-monitoring.”

A senior federal official said the passenger was exhibiting “flu-like symptoms” on the flight.

According to an official briefed on the situation, preliminary information was that the passenger was vomiting on flight but did not display most of the other symptoms.

Other passengers remained on the plane while the sick passenger and his daughter were being removed.

After they were off the plane and it was determined he was not contagious, the rest of the passengers were allowed off, a source with knowledge of the situation told ABC News.

The passengers were required to give information on how to follow up with them if the need arose.

“Everybody was very calm,” said Bob MacRae, who was among the passengers kept at the airport for about two hours. “It’s just it dragged out for quite a long time without any real good answers so I think we would have appreciated more information as time went on but we didn’t really have any.”

There were 255 passengers and a crew of three pilots and 11 flight attendants on the Boeing 777-200.

United Airlines released a brief statement after the flight arrived.

“Upon arrival at Newark Airport from Brussels, medical professionals instructed that customers and crew of United flight 998 remain on board until they could assist an ill customer,” the statement said. “We are working with authorities and will accommodate our customers as quickly as we can.”

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CDC Officials Meet Flight After Passenger Shows Possible Ebola Symptoms

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) — A United Airlines flight from Brussels was met by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials Saturday at Newark Liberty International Airport after a passenger on board believed to be from Liberia exhibited possible signs of Ebola virus.

The passenger was traveling with his daughter on United Flight 998 and both were removed from the plane by CDC crew in full hazmat gear.

Other passengers remained on the plane while the two were being removed.

“Upon arrival at Newark Airport from Brussels, medical professionals instructed that customers and crew of United flight 988 remain on board until they could assist an ill customer,” the statement said. “We are working with authorities and will accommodate our customers as quickly as we can.”

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What We Know About the Texas Ebola Case

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — The family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed in the U.S., is in a new home after leaving their apartment in Dallas on Friday night.

While the family remains in quarantine, clean-up crews returned to the apartment Saturday to continue sanitizing.

Duncan, who was visiting family in the U.S. after arriving from Liberia, was diagnosed with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas last Sunday, three days after he initially went to the hospital but was released. He remains in serious condition in an isolation ward.

Health officials are monitoring about 50 people who may have had contact with Duncan, including 9 of those believed to be at “high risk” for exposure.

Here’s what we know about the case:

Hospital Says Duncan’s Records Were Available to Entire Staff
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said Friday that its entire staff had access to Duncan’s electronic health records, including his travel history, days after blaming a flaw in physician and nursing workflows as the reason he was initially released.

Duncan arrived at the emergency room on September 25 with a low-grade fever and complained of abdominal pain. Although he disclosed to a nurse he had traveled from Liberia, he was still released with antibiotics rather than being put into an isolation ward at the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, the hospital issued a statement saying that the entire team treating Duncan had access to the information about his travel history and denied that there was a flaw in the way its physician and nursing workflow interacted.

“As a standard part of the nursing process, the patient’s travel history was documented and available to the full care team in the electronic health record (EHR), including within the physician’s workflow,” read the statement. “There was no flaw in the EHR in the way the physician and nursing portions interacted related to this event.”

Duncan Could Face Charges
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday it is looking into whether charges should be brought against Duncan, according to ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas.

Officials will examine if Duncan’s actions could constitute criminal activity by putting public health at risk.

“We are looking into whether or not Duncan knowingly and intentionally exposed the public to a deadly virus, making this a criminal matter for Dallas County,” spokesperson Debbie Denmon told WFAA in an email.

Duncan’s nephew Joe Weeks told ABC News that Duncan seemed to be growing weaker in recent days.

“At first we were able to talk to him on the phone, but now he is just too sick to speak,” said Weeks.

Relatives of Duncan Moved to Undisclosed Location
Relatives of Duncan were moved to an undisclosed location within the city of limits of Dallas on Friday.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters the family was moved to a four-bedroom house of which the use was given to them by an anonymous donor in the “faith-based community.”

Judge Clay Jenkins and Rawlings told reporters the donor was a friend whom they called for help. The house is in a gated community.

“They’ve got room to move,” Jenkins said of the family, which is under quarantine and can’t leave the property.

The family had been in the same apartment where Duncan became ill late last week. It includes two men, a 13-year-old boy named Timothy, and a woman named Louise Troh, who traveled with Duncan from Liberia and has been referred to as Duncan’s wife by other family members.

Jenkins had ordered the family to stay at the apartment as part of quarantine measures to ensure the virus didn’t spread.

On Friday, a team entered the home to decontaminate any surface that Duncan may have contaminated. The family will remain in quarantine for at least 21 days.

Ebola Clean Up to Cost $65,000
The cost to decontaminate the apartment will cost about $65,000, according to local government officials in Dallas. The state of Texas will cover the cost.

On Friday, a special team of cleaners began cleaning and removing infected materials, including mattresses, sheets and towels, from the home. Those linens will be sealed in plastic barrels, placed in a sealed tractor and later incinerated.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency permit Friday allowing all Ebola-contaminated materials to moved so they can be incinerated.

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CDC Investigates Another Death of Child with Enterovirus 68

Fuse/Thinkstock(HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed another death linked to the enterovirus 68.

A New Jersey preschooler, who died last week, tested positive for the disease, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. The medical examiner listed the 4-year-old’s cause of death as enterovirus, Hamilton Township Health Officer Jeff Plunkett said Saturday.

At least four other patients, who tested positive for the enterovirus 68, have died, according to the CDC. However, government health officials are still investigating whether the virus played a role in their deaths.

Another child in Rhode Island died last week from a combination of bacterial and viral infections. The Rhode Island Department of Health said the 10-year-old girl died of Staphylococcus aureus sepis “associated with” enterovirus 68.

The respiratory disease is suspected of sickening children in at least 43 states, according to the CDC. The virus often starts out similar to a common cold with patients usually complaining of coughing or a runny nose. In rare cases the respiratory problems can become severe, particularly for asthmatic patients.

In Colorado, CDC and local health officials are investigating whether limb weakness and paralysis reported in nine children was associated with the enterovirus 68.

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Ebola Patient’s Sequestered Relatives Moving to Donated Home in Gated Community

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(DALLAS) — Four relatives of the Texas Ebola patient who have been confined to their Dallas apartment were moved to a home in a gated community, the use of which was given to them by an anonymous donor, according to a Dallas city official.

The city had a difficult time finding a home for the family of Thomas Eric Duncan because no one wanted to take them in, according to Sana Syed, a spokesperson for the city of Dallas.

Cleanup crews discovered Friday that Duncan slept on every mattress in the apartment, said Syed. They previously thought he only slept on one.

All the mattresses, sheets and towels inside the apartment were confiscated and will be incinerated, said Syed. The cleanup will continue for several more days and the car Duncan was in before being taken to the emergency room will be towed.

The family includes two men, a 13-year-old boy named Timothy, and a woman named Louise Troh, who traveled with Duncan from Liberia and has been referred to as Duncan’s wife by other family members.

Timothy’s father Peterson Wayne told ABC News that he had spoken with his son by phone since he was ordered to remain inside the apartment. Wayne said that his son has been occupying his time by playing games on his phone and sounds fine but “he’s the kind of kid who likes to get outside and run around.”

“He said he’s okay … He sounded normal,” Wayne said of his son.

The North Texas Food Bank stopped outside of the apartment on Thursday and left three day’s worth of food, including produce, cereal, rice, pasta, tuna and shelf-stable milk.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Friday that he visited the apartment Thursday night to apologize to the residents for keeping them in the apartment despite Duncan’s diagnosis. He said that he told them that he wanted to make sure that they were treated as well as he would expect his own family to be treated.

Jenkins specifically said that he wanted to make sure that the family would be moved somewhere with a washer and dryer.

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Possible Ebola Patient Tested in Washington

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Days after a person was diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil for the first time, officials are reportedly investigating a possible Ebola infection in Washington, D.C.

At Howard University Hospital, a patient is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms that could be associated with Ebola, according to a statement Friday from the hospital. The patient had recently traveled to Nigeria, where the Ebola outbreak has killed eight people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with medical providers to monitor the patient’s progress, officials said.

Though the scare has put some on edge, the case is not unique. After issuing an alert to hospitals and medical providers in July, the CDC has looked into approximately 100 Ebola scares in 33 states, as of Oct. 1, the agency said.

Among those, the CDC has tested the blood of 15 possible Ebola patients and found only one patient who tested positive, according to Dr. Beth Bell, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. That patient is Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man diagnosed in Dallas.

“We’re striving for perfection, but what we continue to do is redouble our efforts and … use this as learning experience,” Bell said.

Diagnosing the deadly virus can be difficult. The early symptoms of the Ebola virus, including fever chills and abdominal pain, are similar to many other diseases and can be difficult to diagnose correctly.

After a hospital or state lab identifies a possible Ebola case based on both travel history and symptoms, they notify the CDC. CDC officials then talk to someone familiar with the patient’s history to determine whether blood testing for the virus is necessary, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told ABC News in an earlier interview.

CDC officials discuss symptoms and determine whether the patient may have been exposed to the virus. A person can be exposed to the virus if they buried the body of an Ebola patient, lived in the same home as an Ebola patient or was a health care worker.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University Department of Medicine, said it is not surprising that only a small percentage of the patients investigated had a blood test to check for Ebola.

There are diseases that can appear similar to Ebola, but are far more common in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone where the Ebola outbreak started, Schaffner noted. Doctors might end up contacting the CDC before finding out a patient actually has fever due to tuberculosis.

“You have to be mindful this could be malaria or typhoid fever. That’s your job to sort all those things out,” said Schaffner. “Your threshold for getting a blood specimen is dependent on the answers to those questions. You kind of have a decision algorithm in your head.”

Schaffner said he would not be surprised if there are a rash of new calls to the CDC from hospitals or state labs in the next few days and weeks in light of the intense media coverage of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.

“Having all those inquiries come into the CDC are very, very indicative of the fact that the medical care community are on the alert and thinking about [Ebola],” Schaffner said. “It keeps all of us on our toes.”

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