The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States slipped from serious to critical condition in Dallas, while a former Ebola patient was readmitted to a Massachusetts hospital.
The case of Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived in Dallas from Liberia two weeks ago, has heightened concerns that the worst Ebola epidemic on record could spread from West Africa where it began in March and has taken more than 3,400 lives.
The hospital said Saturday that Duncan was in critical condition, a worsening from “serious condition” which he was said to be in during the previous two days. The hospital declined to elaborate.
One of the Americans infected while working in the region, Dr. Richard Sacra, was in isolation in Worcester, Massachusetts, after being admitted Saturday for what appeared to be a respiratory infection.
Sacra was treated successfully for Ebola in Nebraska and discharged on Sept. 25. He was stable and being watched for signs of a relapse of the disease at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, the Boston Globe.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said hospitals nationwide have become more vigilant in checking incoming patients for potential risks, particularly among those traveling recently from West Africa.
The CDC has narrowed the number of individuals in Dallas at greatest risk of infection from Duncan, identifying nine people who had direct contact with him.
Another 40 were being monitored as potential contacts, out of a group of 114 people initially evaluated for exposure risks, though none from either group has shown symptoms, Frieden said.
Ebola, which can cause fever, vomiting and diarrhea, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva.
A hospital patient in Sarasota, Florida, was being monitored and treated for possible symptoms in isolation as a precaution because he, too, had traveled recently to West Africa, Governor Rick Scott said on Saturday.
But a patient admitted under similar circumstances to Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., after a recent trip to Nigeria was ruled out as an Ebola victim earlier in the day.
Duncan, now being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, was sent home after his first visit to the emergency room, despite telling a nurse there that he had just been to Liberia.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)