Dallas Officials Find Homeless Man At Risk For Ebola

Sunday, October 5th 2014, 2:02 pm
By: News 9

Authorities in Dallas found a homeless person who might have had contact with the lone Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., after a frantic search Sunday.

Dallas County Judge Clay Lewis Jenkins didn't identify the person, whom he described as a "low-risk individual identified as a contact."

Jenkins stressed earlier that the effort to locate the person was precautionary and that the person had not committed a crime.

"We are working to locate the individual and get him to a comfortable, compassionate place where we can monitor him and care for his every need for the full incubation period," Jenkins said.

CBS Dallas reporter J.D. Miles tweeted that officials described him as a "panhandler."

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the person was in a group of 38 people who may have had contact with the Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.

Officials said the homeless man is believed to have ridden in the same ambulance that transported Duncan.

Dr. Anthony Fauci who heads up the Allergy and Infectious Diseases Institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, "I would not be surprised if one of the people who came into direct contact with Mr. Duncan when he was ill will get Ebola. You can't say. You can't put a number on it. It's impossible to do that. But there certainly is a risk."

Meanwhile, officials have said Duncan's condition has "taken a turn for the worse."

On Sept. 25, Duncan went to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He was reported to have a fever, headache and abdominal pain, but no diarrhea or vomiting. The hospital said he told them he'd recently arrived from West Africa, but that he denied having been around anyone sick. He was released.

By the end of last weekend, Duncan's condition had worsened.

10/4/2014 Related Story: CDC Responds To Sick Passenger On International Flight

Youngor Jallah, 35, the daughter of Louise Troh, went to her mother's apartment to check on him. He'd been vomiting and had diarrhea the previous night. When she arrived with crackers, Gatorade and tea, Duncan was too sick to come out for breakfast.

After she found him fully dressed with socks, shivering in bed under a thin polyester blanket, Jallah drove to a Wal-Mart to buy "the warmest blanket I could find." When she returned, she noticed red in his eyes.

Jallah, a nurse's assistant, took his temperature and blood pressure - both of which were unusually high - and called an ambulance. When it arrived, she warned the staff "this man is from a virus country." They returned in protective gear and gloves.

Between the time he was first released from the hospital and when he was readmitted into a quarantine, Duncan is believed to have come in contact with dozens of people, including many school-aged children. None so far have tested positive for the disease.

Meanwhile, NBC News said late last week an American freelance cameraman working for the network in Liberia who tested positive for the virus will be flown back to the United States, along with the rest of the news crew.

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people, mostly in Africa, the World Health Organization said Friday.

Learn more at CBS News