Traveler from Liberia is first Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S.

admin   •   October 1, 2014   •   2595

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, speaks at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia September 30, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/TAMI CHAPPELL

(Reuters) – A man who flew from Liberia to Texas has become the first patient infected with the deadly Ebola virus to be diagnosed in the United States, health officials said on Tuesday, a sign the outbreak ravaging West Africa may spread globally.

The patient sought treatment six days after arriving in Texas on Sept. 20, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters. He was admitted two days later to an isolation room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

U.S. health officials and lawmakers have been bracing for the eventuality that a patient would arrive on U.S. shores undetected, testing the preparedness of the nation’s healthcare system. On Tuesday, Frieden and other health authorities said they were taking every step possible to ensure the virus did not spread widely.

“It is certainly possible someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks,” Frieden told a news conference. “I have no doubt we will stop this in its tracks in the United States.”

Frieden said a handful of people, mostly family members, may have been exposed to the patient after he fell ill and that health authorities were tracking down anyone who might have had contact with the man. The emergency responders who transported the man to the hospital have been quarantined, according to a statement from Dallas city officials.

He said there was likely no threat to any airline passengers because the patient had no symptoms during his flight. Asked whether the patient was a U.S. citizen, Frieden described the person as a visitor to family in the country.

At least 3,091 people have died from Ebola in the worst outbreak on record that has been ravaging Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa. More than 6,500 cases have been diagnosed, and the CDC has warned that the number of infections could rise to as many as 1.4 million people by early next year without a massive global intervention to contain the virus.

U.S. hospitals have treated, and released, three aid workers who were infected in Africa and flown back to the United States under strict medical supervision in a specially outfitted airplane.

A fourth person is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and a fifth person who may have been exposed to the virus is under observation at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

President Barack Obama discussed the Dallas case with Frieden on Tuesday, the White House said.

GLOBAL SECURITY ISSUE

The Ebola outbreak has overwhelmed health systems in Africa, one of the world’s poorest regions, prompting the U.S. government and other nations to send funds, supplies and personnel to stop its spread.

The Dallas case “underscores that Ebola is a global and national security issue and that we need to double-down on our efforts to help West Africa get this outbreak under control,” Gerald Parker, vice president for Public Health Preparedness and Response at Texas A&M Health Science Center, said in an interview.

Frieden has said U.S. hospitals are well prepared to handle Ebola patients and has assured the public that the virus should not pose the same threat in the United States as it does in Africa.

“Americans need to remain calm and listen to the precautionary measures being suggested by the CDC,” said Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.

“It was only a matter of time before an Ebola case would emerge here in the United States, but as we’re seeing in Dallas today, our public health system has the resources, capabilities, and knowledge to address and contain this virus quickly and safely.”

Ebola symptoms generally appear between two and 21 days after infection, meaning there is a significant window during which an infected person can escape detection, allowing them to travel. Symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

This outbreak has killed about 50 percent of its victims. In past outbreaks, fatality rates have been as high as 90 percent.

Frieden emphasized that Ebola cannot be spread through the air but only through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, diarrhea and tears.

He said that CDC and other health officials were discussing whether to treat the Ebola patient with an experimental drug.

Stocks in Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp and other small biotechnology companies working on Ebola therapies or vaccines rose on the news of the U.S. Ebola patient in after-hours trading.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago and Sharon Begley in New York; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Lisa Shumaker)

US temporarily bans dog imports from PH, 112 other countries due to rabies risk

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

The United States government has temporarily suspended the importation of dogs from the Philippines and other countries classified as high risk for dog rabies, its embassy said.

On Twitter, the US embassy in the Philippines said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a notice of suspension on the importation of dogs from 113 countries starting July 14, 2021.

“NOTICE: @CDCgov has suspended the importation of dogs to the U.S. from countries, including the Philippines, classified by the CDC as high risk for dog rabies,” the embassy said.

@CDCgov also suspended the importation of dogs from countries that are not at high risk if the dogs have been in high-risk countries during the previous 6 months,” it added.

The US CDC said the notice of temporary suspension, which was issued last June 14, is necessary to “ensure the health and safety of dogs imported into the United States and to protect the public’s health against the reintroduction of canine rabies virus variant (dog rabies) into the United States.”

The agency said in 2020, it identified a significant increase compared with the previous 2 years in the number of imported dogs that were denied entry into the United States from high-risk countries. Due to reduced flight schedules, dogs denied entry are facing longer wait times to be returned to their country of departure, leading to illness and even death in some cases.

The CDC estimates 6 percent of all dogs imported into the Unites States arrive from countries at high risk for dog rabies.

“Inadequately vaccinated dogs are not protected against rabies and are a public health threat. Rabies is fatal in both humans and animals, and the importation of even one rabid dog could result in transmission to humans, pets, and wildlife. Dog rabies has been eliminated from the United States since 2007,” it added.

The agency said it has the authority to issue advance written approval or a dog import permit to bring a dog from a high-risk country.

The permits, however, will not be issued upon arrival and that dogs that arrive from high-risk countries without a CDC Dog Import Permit will be denied entry and returned to the country of departure at the importer’s expense, the CDC said.

“If you wish to import a dog from a high-risk country, you need to request advance written approval from CDC by emailing CDCanimalimports@cdc.gov at least 30 business days (6 weeks) before you intend to bring the dog into the United States,” the agency said.

All dogs from high-risk countries granted permits must enter the United States at a port of entry with a live animal care facility with a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-issued Facilities Information and Resource Management System (FIRMS) code.

Before entering or re-entering the United States with a dog, the CDC said importers should continue to check other federal regulations as well as rabies vaccination requirements of state and local governments at their final destination.

US advises citizens vs traveling to PH due to COVID-19 situation

Maris Federez   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines –The United States (US) government has issued an advisory for its citizens to avoid travel to the Philippines due to a “high-level” of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the Philippines due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country,” the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) announced in its website.

The CA said that aside from COVID-19, crimes, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping are among the reasons cited by the CDC in placing the Philippines on Level 4 advisory.

The bureau advises US citizens to exercise increased caution in going to the Philippines, and to “read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.”

“There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into the Philippines,” the CA said.

The Do Not Travel advisory specifically indicated the Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping; and Marawi City in Mindanao due to terrorism and civil unrest.

It also advised to Reconsider Travel to other areas of Mindanao due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping.

The State Department added that should US citizens decide to travel to the Philippines, they must visit the U.S. Embassy’s webpage regarding COVID-19, the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19, monitor local media for breaking events, and adjust their plans based on new information, and other follow other precautions specified.

Countries that were issued a Level 4 travel warning include Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, and Spain among others.  —/mbmf

Liberia coronavirus lockdown off to chaotic start

UNTV News   •   April 13, 2020

A coronavirus lockdown in Liberia’s capital Monrovia got off to a chaotic start on Saturday (April 11), as some police officers used truncheons against residents who had ventured out into the streets to buy food and withdraw money.

Confusion reigned across much of Monrovia, a city of more than 1 million people, with many having heard, erroneously, via social media that the government had ordered a 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew rather than a full lockdown.

Many residents voiced anger at President George Weah’s order, which they said would do more harm than good in a country where more than half the population lives in poverty.

“Corona is not going to kill many people. It is hunger that will kill many Liberians,” said Jettroy Kolleh, a student, as he stood outside a bank in Monrovia where dozens of people had queued in close proximity to withdraw money.

The three-week lockdown is a test of the Liberian authorities’ vows to improve on their handling of a quarantine of a Monrovia slum during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, which sparked riots by residents lacking food and water.

Reuters TV footage from Saturday showed police patrolling in riot gear and pursuing people in the streets with truncheons. At the Red Light market, one of the city’s busiest, an excavator truck destroyed most of the informal market stalls, where people had earlier congregated.

A police spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Roland Weah, the commissioner of the West Point neighbourhood, where police opened fire during the Ebola outbreak to enforce a quarantine, said authorities were working closely with communities to avoid a repeat.

As the virus’ spread accelerates in Africa, with more than 13,000 cases now reported across the continent, some countries have ordered full lockdowns, while others have imposed curfews or more limited restrictions in an effort to limit the impact on people who live hand to mouth from the informal economy.

Rights activists in several countries have reported instances of brutality by police enforcing lockdowns or curfews.

Liberia has so far confirmed at least 48 cases of the coronavirus, including five deaths. (Reuters)

(Production: Derrick Snyder, Yvonne Bell, Paul Warren, Bharati Naik)

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