A patient currently held in “strict isolation” is being screened for the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
Health officials expect preliminary results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by Tuesday. The patient, who has not been identified, is being evaluated for the virus because of his or her “symptoms and recent travel history.” Symptoms can begin within two days of infection, causing fever, diarrhea, severe stomach pains, and vomiting.
According to the CDC, the average time for symptoms to begin is between eight and 10 days, although it can take as many as 21. Texas Health Presbyterian spokesman Steve O’Brien said the hospital is following all federal recommendations to “ensure the safety of patients, hospital staff, volunteers, physicians, and visitors.” Testing occurs at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta and takes between 24 and 48 hours.
The virus has killed more than 3,000 people across West Africa this year, severe enough that the CDC has declared it “the first epidemic the world has ever known.” Cases are largely confined to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, although infections have been reported in Nigeria and Senegal.
No cases have been confirmed in the United States, although physicians have returned stateside to receive treatment. Perhaps most notably is Dr. Kent Brantly, the Fort Worth doctor who contracted the virus while volunteering in Africa. He was flown to America and treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. He was discharged on Aug. 21 after tests showed he no longer had the virus.
He and fellow volunteer Nancy Writebol received an experimental treatment for Ebola over the course of about three weeks. Officials have not said whether the medicine, ZMapp, was responsible for their improvement.
Prior to this outbreak, the CDC said Ebola had a nearly 90 percent fatality rate. The current epidemic has claimed the lives of 47 percent of the 6,574 who have contracted it, the CDC says. The feds say early treatment is the reason for the improvement.
Ebola is spread by direct contact with the body fluids of an infected patient. It is highly contagious and there is no known cure.
The Associated Press contributed to this report