Up to 100 at risk of Ebola exposure in Texas

Thomas Eric Duncan, who has the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Associated Press

Thomas Eric Duncan, who has the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Associated Press

DALLAS—Up to 100 people are now being screened for potential exposure to Ebola in Texas, state health officials said Thursday, as they seek to contain the first case of the disease diagnosed in the U.S.

Texas health officials cautioned that the figure represented a “very wide net,” including “people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home” and was likely to drop as they narrowed the list to those actually at potential risk of infection, said Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The list of 100 includes people who had direct contact with Mr. Duncan, as well as individuals who subsequently had contact with those people, said Erikka Neroes, a spokeswoman for Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Once they interview those people, they will winnow down the list to a number, likely to be much smaller, of those who they believe may have been exposed to Ebola.

Among those who had contact with Mr. Duncan, authorities previously said, are five children, ranging from elementary to high-school age, as well as a small group of adults. Mr. Duncan currently is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Health officials had originally identified 12 to 18 people who interacted with Mr. Duncan. Those people are being monitored by health-care workers, with their temperature being taken twice a day.

The other people on Dallas County’s list were told to self-monitor or ask for assistance if they cannot do it themselves. Most of the 80 or so people on the list haven’t been ordered to stay home.

However, health officials have also formally ordered four of Mr. Duncan’s close family members to stay home and not receive any visitors until at least Oct. 19. The family members could face criminal charges if they don’t abide by the order.

Officials said they issued the order late Wednesday as a precaution, adding that those people haven’t developed any symptoms. They had been previously asked to stay home.

“This order gives us the ability to monitor the situation in the most meticulous way,” said David Lakey, Texas Health Commissioner, in a statement.

To date, no one else has been diagnosed with Ebola in Texas. But Ms. Neroes of the Dallas County health agency said local health officials are preparing for the possibility that another person might come down with the illness.

“There are no other confirmed cases, but there could be,” she said.

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