First Case of Ebola Has Been Diagnosed in the United States

Doctors get ready to enter the Ebola unit in Liberia in August. Doctors get ready to enter the Ebola unit in Liberia in August. Athalia Christie/CDC

Americans' long-standing Ebola fear has been realized.

The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, said at a press briefing that the patient had no symptoms when he arrived in the Dallas, Texas on September 20 from Liberia. Symptoms first appeared "four or five days later," Friedan said, and the patient was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on September 28 where he was placed in isolation.

The Ebola outbreak began in West Africa nine months ago, but remained concentrated in three countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

There have been more than 6,500 reported cases and more than 3,000 deaths thus far, according to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization.

The epidemic did not receive widespread U.S. media attention until this summer, when two American aid workers contracted the virus in Liberia.

Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were evacuated to Emory University in Atlanta for treatment, and have since been released. Another American physician, Rick Sacra, contracted the virus in Liberia, and was treated at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and released last week. A fourth American patient remains in treatment at Emory.

The case announced Tuesday is the first actually diagnosed in the U.S.

Officials have said the emergence of a U.S. case was a possibility, but expressed confidence that the American health system is equipped to deal with it should a case arise.

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