Children from four different schools and 18 Americans may be at risk for Ebola virus

Schoolchildren in Texas may be at risk from Ebola today after five children who attend four different Dallas schools came in close contact with the first patient diagnosed with the deadly virus on U.S. soil.

Officials said on Wednesday that the students were in school this week after possibly being in contact with the patient over the weekend when he had become contagious with the deadly virus.

The Ebola patient was named today as Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national in his mid-forties, who had traveled to the U.S. from Liberia on September 20 to visit his family.

His sister Mai Wureh said her sick brother told officials the first time he went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 26 that he was visiting from a West African country in the so-called ‘Ebola hot zone’ – but was sent home with antibiotics, a critically-missed opportunity to prevent others being exposed to the disease.

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles said on Wednesday that the children who came in contact with Mr Duncan are showing no symptoms and are now being monitored at home.

As an added precaution, Miles says additional health and custodial staff will be at the high, middle and two elementary schools that the students attend.

The Star-Telegram reported that children from L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School were taken out of school by concerned parents.

Mr Duncan’s family are among up to 18 people being monitored after exposure to the man along with the ambulance crew who transported him to hospital.

As health officials scrambled to contain the infection, Texas Governor Rick Perry said at a hospital press conference on Wednesday that he had ‘full confidence’ in Texas medical teams when it came to the safety and welfare of citizens, adding that only those who came in close contact with the patient when he was contagious were at risk.

Dr Mark Lester also confirmed that a nurse asked Mr Duncan on his first visit whether he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa but that the ‘information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team’.

Mr Duncan underwent basic blood tests but not an Ebola screening.

The patient is now in a ‘serious but stable condition’ and has been quarantined since Sunday – although he was in the U.S. for almost a week before being isolated.

He is ‘awake, talking and asking for food’, doctors said today.

According to The New York Times, Mr Duncan worked moving cargo for Fedex in the Liberian capital Monrovia but had recently quit his job and gotten a visa to come to the U.S. where his son reportedly lives.

The Times also revealed that Mr Duncan may have contracted Ebola while helping carry his landlord’s seriously ill, pregnant daughter to hospital.

The woman, named by The Times as 19-year-old Marthalene Williams was taken to a hospital on September 15, but turned away because there was no room to treat her. She died the following day.

The landlord’s son and three neighbors who came in contact with the woman also died soon afterwards.

The Liberian government said on Wednesday that Mr Duncan showed no signs of fever or symptoms of the virus when he left Liberia for the United States via Brussels on September 19.

The patient showed no symptoms of the disease during his journey – which also included a stop en route in Brussels, Belgium.

Hundreds of passengers were exposed to Mr Duncan after it was revealed today that the traveler took at least three flights to get from Liberia to Dallas – because there is no direct flight from Belgium to Texas.

The other flight that Mr Duncan boarded is currently unknown and no details are being released.

United Airlines has said it thinks Mr Duncan flew from Brussels to Washington Dulles on Flight 951 before he traveled from Washington Dulles to Dallas Fort-Worth on Flight 822.

Belgium’s health ministry said U.S. experts had advised Brussels that the man was not displaying Ebola symptoms and so would not have been in a position to pass on the virus. A spokesman said that Belgium therefore did not need to trace fellow passengers or crew of Brussel Airlines, one of a very few operators still flying to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Mr Duncan began to develop symptoms of Ebola on September 24, four days after arriving in the U.S.

He sought medical care on September 26 at Texas Presbyterian Hospital – where he was sent home.

More at The DailyMail Online.

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