News and Opinion

CDC and Texas Health Department Confirm First Ebola Case Diagnosed in the U.S.

Hospitalized patient had recently returned from West Africa; active contact tracing underway

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed today, through laboratory tests, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from West Africa. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately five days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.

The person sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola. Based on the person’s travel history and symptoms, CDC recommended testing for Ebola. The medical facility isolated the patient and sent specimens for testing at CDC and at a Texas lab participating in the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network. CDC and the Texas Health Department reported the laboratory test results to the medical center to inform the patient. A CDC team is being dispatched to Dallas.

“Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities,” said CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “While it is not impossible that there could be additional cases associated with this patient in the coming weeks, I have no doubt that we will contain this.”

The ill person did not exhibit symptoms of Ebola during the flights from West Africa and CDC does not recommend that people on the same commercial airline flights undergo monitoring, as Ebola is only contagious if the person is experiencing active symptoms. The person reported developing symptoms several days after the return flight. Anyone concerned about possible exposure may call CDC-Info at 800-CDC-INFO for more information.

CDC recognizes that even a single case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States raises concerns. Knowing the possibility exists, medical and public health professionals across the country have been preparing to respond. CDC and public health officials in Texas are taking precautions to identify people who have had close personal contact with the ill person and health care professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.

We do know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the U.S.

CDC has been anticipating and preparing for a case of Ebola in the United States. We have been:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations
  • Providing recommendations for  healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners

The data health officials have seen in the past few decades since Ebola was discovered indicate that it is not spread through casual contact or through the air. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it ranges from 2 to 21 days); CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious after exposure unless they develop symptoms.

More information is available at

Forest Service Tries To Require Expensive Photo Permits, Ditch First Amendment | NPPA

DURHAM, NC (September 24, 2014) – The U.S. Forest Service has once again raised the hackles of journalists and those who abide by the Constitution’s First Amendment by tightening restrictions on journalists and requiring permission and a paid permit in order to shoot photographs or video on federal wilderness lands.

According to new rules the Forest Service is trying to enact in November a permit that costs up to $1,500 will be required. And those who don’t get the permit could face fines of up to $1,000.

“There are a number of things that have NPPA and other news organizations greatly concerned about the most recent directive from the Forest Service,” NPPA general counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher said today.

“The first being the vague language used to somehow make editorial photography/filming ‘commercial’ in nature. There has always been a clear distinction between the First Amendment protections accorded to newsgathering. This policy limits far more speech and press than is necessary to achieve the government’s stated purpose. Not only does requiring a permit for ordinary newsgathering create a chilling effect on freedom of speech and of the press but granting the Service the ability to deny such a permit in the case of a journalist or news organization would, we believe, create an unconstitutional prior restraint on those newsgathering activities.

via Forest Service Tries To Require Expensive Photo Permits, Ditch First Amendment | NPPA.

U.S., Arab Allies Strike ISIS Extremists in Syria – NBC

The United States and partner nations launched massive airstrikes in Syria against ISIS targets for the first time Monday, the Pentagon said. In a major escalation of the U.S.-led confrontation with ISIS, the U.S. military plans to strike up to 20 targets in and around Raqqa, Syria — logistics, fuel and weapons depots; training sites; troop encampments; command and control sites; and headquarters for the Sunni fighters. The bombing began at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, a senior U.S. defense official told NBC News.

via U.S., Arab Allies Strike ISIS Extremists in Syria – NBC

Citing security threat, Obama expands U.S. role fighting Ebola | Reuters

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday called West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak a looming threat to global security and announced a major expansion of the U.S. role in trying to halt its spread, including deployment of 3,000 troops to the region.

“The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better,” Obama said at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Atlanta headquarters.

“But right now, the world still has an opportunity to save countless lives. Right now, the world has the responsibility to act, to step up and to do more. The United States of America intends to do more,” Obama added.

via Citing security threat, Obama expands U.S. role fighting Ebola | Reuters.

President Obama addresses the Nation

In president Obama’s address last night, he made it clear that ISIS is an enemy and a coalition, lead by the United States, will begin military action to eradicate ISIS in Syria.

No timeline was given.

Other world leaders aren’t so supportive.

Britain said they had discussed Syria last year and had no intention of discussing it again. Let a couple of their citizens get their heads lopped off and I bet that position would change.

Obama said he was not going to send in ground troops, but he’s authorized some troops to help with training and intelligence tasks.

Now it’s a “wait and see” game.

The national threat level remains un-changed.