More than 100 people are being monitored for the Ebola virus in Texas, health officials told The Post on Thursday.
“This situation is constantly evolving,” Dallas County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erikka Neroes told The Post. “No one is symptomatic and we are doing everything within our power and our procedures to maintain this.”
The 12 to 18 people originally reported as being monitored were individuals who actually came in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan while he displayed symptoms, Neroes said. When officials interviewed those people, county and federal officials became aware that they had come in contact with dozens of other individuals — a number that has now surged past 100, Neroes said.
“Everyone is going to be interviewed, will be provided with education about Ebola, and educated how to watch for symptoms,” she said. “At the first sign of any symptoms, they will immediately seek medical treatment.”
Neroes said the people’s symptoms will be monitored twice a day as health officials stand by 24/7 — a process that will continue until Oct. 19.
“We’re on the ground,” she said. “The process goes on and we’re committed, no matter the time, no matter the resources, no matter the number of individuals this list grows to, we continue to investigate and we continue to monitor.”
The shocking revelation comes as health officials in Hawaii treat a person displaying possible symptoms of the Ebola virus — just two days after Duncan was diagnosed in Dallas. The unidentified Hawaii patient has been isolated as a precaution at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, but has yet to be actually tested for the disease, KHON Hawaii reports.
“We are early in the investigation of a patient — very, very early — who we’re investigating that might have Ebola,” said deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Melissa Viray. “It’s very possible that they do and they have Ebola.”
“I think it’s also more likely that they have another condition that presents with similar symptoms,” she added.
Back in Texas, health officials worried about the potential spread of the deadly virus have ordered four of Duncan’s close family members to stay inside their homes at all times and have no visitors whatsoever. If they refuse, they will be in violation of state law and will face criminal charges, the Department of State Health Services said Thursday.
“We have tried and true protocols to protect the public and stop the spread of this disease,” said Texas health commissioner Dr. David Lakey. “This order gives us the ability to monitor the situation in the most meticulous way.”
The orders were hand-delivered to Duncan’s family Wednesday night, and require the relatives to remain at their home until Oct. 19. They will have to submit blood samples and are forced to agree to any and all testing required by public health officials.
Under Texas law, the state health department and the local health authority have the power to isolate or quarantine a person who is suspected of having been exposed to, or is a carrier of, a communicable disease, according to the state health agency. If a person refuses to follow such orders, health officials said, they will be arrested.
Duncan — who is in serious but stable condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital — had been staying in Monrovia before flying to visit relatives in Dallas.
Government officials in Liberia expressed their sympathies with the US on Thursday, saying that they were doing everything possible to assure a situation like Duncan’s would never happen again, according to News 24 South Africa.
“The Liberian government is concerned and regrets that an individual traveling from Liberia was diagnosed with Ebola after arrival in the United States,” said Information Minister Lewis Brown. “Currently there are stringent screening measures in place at the Roberts International Airport which we believe are preventing the disease from spreading via air travel.
“For months now, the Liberian government has been stressing that this disease is not simply a Liberian or West African problem,” he added. “The entire international community has a stake in defeating Ebola.”
Many have wondered why Liberia would allow Duncan to fly on a plane after he reportedly helped carry a woman infected with Ebola just days prior. Brown made it clear, though, that he showed no signs of the virus at the time and seemed healthy enough to fly.