Here at Salon, we are of the firm belief that the United States' public health infrastructure is of the highest quality and that the general American public need not worry about an Ebola outbreak. That said, it seems a pretty egregious error was made when the Dallas man infected with Ebola went to the emergency room to report his symptoms. After he told a nurse that he had been to West Africa, he was mistakenly sent home.
He returned via ambulance two days later and immediately placed in an isolation unit.
Bloomberg's Kelly Gilblom and Michelle Fay Cortez report:
The two-day gap, during which the man was in the community and contagious, occurred because "regretfully, that information was not fully communicated" to other health professionals, said Mark Lester, a hospital system official speaking at a news conference in Dallas today.
"As a result, the full import of that information was not factored into the clinical decision-making," Lester said...
In the Dallas case, the man was in contact with school-age children at some point after arriving in the U.S. according to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who also spoke during the news conference.
"Let me assure you that those children have been identified and monitored," Perry said.
According to Dr. Christopher Perkins of the Dallas Dept. of Health and Human Services, there were five people in the patient's household and up to 18 other individuals who came into contact with him, including five students.
Dallas health officials are concerned that one of the patient's contacts may have become infected.
Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services noted at the press conference, "They have a whole ward that's dedicated to the care of this individual. Professionals who are very competent are doing it in a safe environment with compassionate care," he said. "This is not West Africa, this is a very sophisticated city, a very sophisticated hospital. The chances of it being spread are very, very small."