MOSCOW, October 2 (RIA Novosti) – About 80 people might have come into contact with Texas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan before he was hospitalized, NBC reported Thursday.
Not all of the estimated 80 people were necessarily in close physical contact with Duncan and it is not clear whether he was already showing symptoms of the virus at the time of the contact, according to Dallas health officials cited by NBC.
Earlier the health officials put the number of people who had direct contact with Duncan, a Liberian national, at 12-18, including five school-age children.
The contacts will be investigated and the situation will be monitored to determine exactly how close the people got to Duncan, the health officials said.
Duncan was the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola virus in the United States. He was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday after hospital workers mistakenly sent him home on September 25, as he was not exhibiting any symptoms specific to the disease.
Duncan is believed to have contracted Ebola while he was in Liberia two weeks ago.
The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of those infected. Though there is no officially approved medication for the disease, several countries, including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan are working on developing Ebola vaccines.
The worst Ebola outbreak in history is currently taking place in West Africa. The epidemic has claimed the lives of over 3,000 people according to the latest WHO estimates. The outbreak began in southern Guinea in February and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.