CDC Reports First Case of Ebola Diagnosed in the United States

Some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion is revealed in this undated handout colorized transmission electron micrograph obtained by Reuters August 1, 2014. Frederick Murphy/CDC/Handout/Reuters

Updated | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed late afternoon Tuesday the first case of the Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States.

The unidentified patient recently returned to Texas from Liberia, Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC, said at a media briefing Tuesday afternoon.

The patient is being treated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, according to a statement by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The patient left Liberia on September 19, where he was visiting his family, and arrived in the U.S. on September 20, according to Frieden. He began exhibiting symptoms on the 24th, sought care for the first time on the 26th and was admitted to the hospital on Sunday the 28th.

American health workers have been treated for Ebola in the U.S. after a diagnosis in West Africa, but this is the first diagnosis of an Ebola case in the United States since the start of the recent outbreak. The patient is infected with the "Zaire" strain of the virus, officials said at the briefing. This particular strain is responsible for the current Ebola outbreak and is also the deadliest, according to National Geographic, with a fatality rate around 50 percent.

David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, says they received a blood sample from the patient on Tuesday morning and by early that afternoon the sample was confirmed as having tested positive for Ebola.

So far, more than 3,000 people have died and more than 6,500 have been infected in West Africa by Ebola, the result of a rapid outbreak that started earlier this year, according to the latest numbers by the World Health Organization. Countries have struggled to keep up with the fast-paced spread of the disease, which President Obama last week described as a threat to regional and global security.

The CDC recently predicted that between 550,000 and 1.4 million people might be infected in the region by January, with the the World Health Organization predicting 20,000 at risk of infection within weeks.

The United States has pledged more than $175 million to fight the spread of the disease and is deploying military personnel to West Africa to help with the response.

Frieden and the other officials stated that their next steps are to "maximize chances that the patient will recover" (though they could not confirm how he would be treated) and to identify and reach out to all individuals who might have come into contact with the sick patient during the time he was infectious. Once found, those exposed will be monitored for 21 days. Officials noted that they believe the patient was not infectious while on the plane, and that the only currently known individuals exposed were family members.

"I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country," Frieden said. "We're stopping this in its tracks."

This story has been updated to reflect the latest WHO statistics related to the outbreak of the Ebola virus.