Authorities in Texas have found a missing homeless man who may have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Sunday.
At a news conference earlier Sunday, Jenkins said authorities were searching for a “low-risk individual” who was a contact of the first U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. He said authorities had been “working to locate the individual and get him to a comfortable, compassionate place where we can monitor him and care for his every need for the full incubation period.” He noted that the man “has not committed a crime.”
The individual was last monitored on Saturday, but then went “missing,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden.
At the same news conference Sunday, Frieden said the CDC was being flooded with hundreds of calls every day about Ebola as doctors worked to treat Duncan at a Dallas hospital. He said they were receiving roughly 800 phone calls a day about Ebola — a sharp increase from about 50 a day.
But Frieden said he had "no doubt" the U.S. would stop Ebola "in its tracks" in Texas. He noted, however, that Duncan "has taken a turn for the worse." He was in critical condition Saturday, the hospital said.
Frieden also told reporters in a briefing that "as far as we understand," experimental medicine — which has helped other American Ebola patients — is not being used on Duncan.
Frieden said 114 people suspected of having had contact with Duncan were assessed by officials, who found that 66 of them did not. He said officials have identified 10 people who appeared to have had contact with Duncan — seven healthcare workers and three "family or community contacts." He added there were 38 other people officials "could not rule out," and that those people would be tracked for 21 days to see if they came down with fevers. "That is how we stopped every outbreak in the world with Ebola," Frieden said.
Texas has not had any additional cases of Ebola since Duncan’s diagnosis, and nobody else has reported any symptoms of the virus, said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Service. He added the state was "still very cautious to make sure we care for individuals and monitor the situation the way it needs to be done.”
Earlier on Sunday, Frieden appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" and said “the drug pipeline is going to be slow." He said "The most promising drug, ZMapp — there’s no more of it, and it’s hard to make, it takes months to make just a bit."
He indicated that agencies were pursuing other avenues to fight the spread of Ebola, including multiple vaccines that are in the trial stage.
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