Tags: Ebola | Dallas | CDC | victim

CDC Tracking Down Those Who Had Contact With Dallas Ebola Victim

By    |   Saturday, 04 October 2014 04:37 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week in Dallas has been trying to determine who had contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived from Liberia in September after contracting the deadly disease.

But the work hasn't been easy for a 10-member team of doctors and other health experts, led by infectious disease expert David Kuhar, reports The Washington Post.

One contact list had the names of all the health care professionals at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that Duncan came into contact with during his two visits to the hospital, while another list has the names of other people he came into contact with since he arrived in the United States on Sept. 19.

Pediatrician and epidemic intelligence officer Matt Karwowski, assigned the community list, has been reluctant to say just how many homes a team of three CDC investigators and one county epidemiologist visited in the first day after Duncan's illness was diagnosed.

But since Wednesday's visits started, the homes have included multiple residents, said Karwowski. The investigators are making their calls in everyday clothing and without masks or gloves.

“At each house we spend as much time as necessary with the potential contact,” Karwowski told The Post. “We’re very careful to do education around Ebola — symptoms, how (Ebola) is spread. We review activities, contacts. Every little detail helps us pin down a person’s risk level.”

The CDC said Saturday that none of the people in close contact with Duncan has any symptoms of Ebola, but officials will keep checking the contacts every day, reports NBC News.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said the agency has gotten more than 100 calls about possible cases in the United States, but Duncan is the only case diagnosed.

Three hospitals, including in Washington D.C., have reported suspected cases, but they
turned out to be other illnesses, like malaria.

"We have definitely seen an increase in the numbers since this patient was diagnosed," Frieden said. "That is as it should be. We would rather have a wider net cast so that we are more likely to find someone promptly if they did have exposure."

Karwowski, 34, has been with the CDC for a little more than three months. The Boston
pediatrician is serving a two-year stint at the CDC as an epidemic intelligence service officer, and on Sept. 1 began working full-time with the agency's efforts on Ebola in West Africa. Dallas has been his first field assignment, reports The Post.

But his first trip out has been a challenge for his teams. First, he said, investigators needed to learn if people on the lists were really in contact with Duncan. Then, their temperatures needed to be taken and they were asked questions about possible symptoms. Third, the teams had to educate and reassure the people who were named.

“We want to make sure we’re getting the best possible information,” said Karwowski, “so we have to make sure they understand why we’re doing this, and that they trust us and understand that we’re doing this not only for the safety of the public, but because we’re concerned about them.”

And as many on the lists are part of Dallas' large Liberian community, issues have included language and cultural challenges, but Karwowski said there was no resistance from anyone.

“At every single door, people welcomed us in. They were very compliant, very motivated for a good outcome,” he said. “They were also fearful, but not of us.”

The CDC's 18-hour days have allowed the agency to whittle down a list that had reached around 100 people to now stand at about 50, with 10 at the highest risk level.

Meanwhile, health officials are urging Dallas residents not to shun people who have been in contact with Duncan, reports USA Today.

The family that was living in the Dallas apartment where Duncan was staying is now in a private residence in a gated community while a hazardous-materials crew decontaminated their apartment.

"The people who are being monitored are people just like your family," Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins said at a daily update hosted by the CDC. "There is a lot of misinformation and erroneous fear. ... The people that are being monitored are real people, too — that need your prayers."

But at first, the family's treatment was criticized. They were quarantined in their apartment, and Duncan's contaminated sheets, towels, and other items were not removed for days.

Jenkins said he apologized personally at the apartment when he went there with two epidemiologists five days after Duncan was admitted to the hospital with Ebola.

However, city spokeswoman Sana Syed said Dallas hotels, apartment buildings, and other places would not give the family shelter.

Louise Troh, who is originally from Liberia, along with her son,13, and two nephews, were kept in the apartment, under armed guard, and being monitored, and Troh said she could not believe she and her family were left there with Duncan's items.

"Only the towel is in the plastic bag, but the rest of his stuff stayed the same on the bed," Troh said before the family was moved. "The bedsheets, everything is on the bed."

Ebola is not an airborne virus, but is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, according to the CDC.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week in Dallas has been trying to determine who had contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived from Liberia in September after contracting the deadly disease. But the work hasn't been easy for a 10-member...
Ebola, Dallas, CDC, victim
Saturday, 04 October 2014 04:37 PM
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