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CDC Says 10 At Serious Risk Of Ebola After Dallas Case


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Ebola has become an urgent concern in America. And yesterday, the White House held a briefing to address the country. Lisa Monaco, the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism adviser to the president said...


LISA MONACO: I think it's very important to remind the American people that the United States has the most capable health care infrastructure and the best doctors in the world, bar none.

SIMON: It's been eight days since Thomas Eric Duncan from Liberia walked into Dallas Presbyterian Hospital's emergency room with a fever and stomach cramps. He had Ebola, but hospital missed it and sent him back out with into the general public. Mr. Duncan returned couple of days later critically ill and this time, the diagnosis was made. But hospital's tardy response has been called into question. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has been covering the story in Dallas. Wade, thanks for being with us.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: It's my pleasure.

SIMON: Mr. Duncan apparently told nurses that he was from Liberia, had come there from West Africa. The nurses asked if he'd been exposed to Ebola. He said no. But apparently neither the truth or the lie in those statements got - somehow reached the doctors who actually saw and treated him.

GOODWYN: Yes. At first, the hospital said the problem was a computer charting glitch. They had - they said they had two charting streams - one for the nurses, one for the doctors. And hospital explained that for some reason, the information about the patient's travel only got entered into the nurses' charting stream. But according to The New York Times, as of last night, the hospital is changing that story. Now it says the travel information did go into the doctors' charting stream, but the doctors didn't see it or didn't look at it. It didn't enter into their clinical decision-making. So the doctors who saw Duncan evidently didn't know he'd come from West Africa. If he had known - those doctors had known - it would've brought into play a whole different set of medical protocols that very likely would have raised the Ebola alarm bells. But without the travel information - and really also because Duncan didn't seem all that sick on that first visit to the hospital, he was sent back home, back into the general population with contagious Ebola.

SIMON: The people Mr. Duncan have been staying with had been more or less trapped in a small apartment, not able to - told they couldn't leave until October 19 when the disease will have manifested itself or not. I understand, though, they've finally been moved.

GOODWYN: Yes. Health officials have found a four-bedroom apartment for Duncan's partner and her 13-year-old son and her two 20-something-year-old nephews. They'd been confined in this two-bedroom apartment with one of the bedrooms off-limits because it was filled with a mattress and towels and sheets and bags of clothes that were soiled, likely with Ebola from Duncan's vomiting and being sick. So, you know, she was sleeping in the living, and they boys were in one bedroom. And everyone was scared to death - because of getting Ebola because everything in the apartment from the silverware to the toilets was likely contaminated. At the end of this week, Dallas health officials admitted they had not done right by this family. So finally on Friday, the cleaning crews and hazmat suits came in and began tracking stuff out. And it's going to take, you know, several days to get it all done. The contaminated material will be loaded into a large, sealed container and guarded by the Dallas police until they can finally figure out what to do with it. And the family, they've got a new, four-bedroom apartment. One of the boys wants a basketball and that's being taken care of as we speak.

SIMON: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they're tracking 50 people in Dallas who've had some contact with Mr. Duncan. How worried are they?

GOODWYN: They're - you know, they're fairly worried. I mean, it depends on which group we're talking about. The CDC there says there are 10 people who are at serious risk for contracting Ebola. They say the other 40 are at low risk, and they can go anywhere they want. They just got to take their own temperature and call in once a day. Nobody is showing any signs of illness so far, but we've got a ways to go. It can incubate for weeks. So now it's a waiting game. We're waiting to see if anyone else begins to show symptoms. And we're waiting to see if Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan gets well.

SIMON: NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Dallas. Thanks very much for being with us.

GOODWYN: It was my pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.