Dallas: Liberia plans to prosecute the airline passenger who brought Ebola into the US, alleging that he lied on an airport questionnaire about not having any contact with an infected person, authorities said on Thursday.
Thomas Eric Duncan filled out a series of questions about his health and activities before leaving on his journey to Dallas. On a Sept. 19 form obtained by The Associated Press, he answered no to all of them.
Among other questions, the form asked whether Duncan had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of anyone who had died in an area affected by Ebola.
"We expect people to do the honorable thing," said Binyah Kesselly, chairman of the board of directors of the Liberia Airport Authority in Monrovia. The agency obtained permission from the Ministry of Justice to pursue the matter.
Neighbors in the Liberian capital believe Duncan become infected when he helped bundle a sick pregnant neighbor into a taxi a few weeks ago and set off with her to find treatment.
In Texas, health officials have reached out to about 80 people who may have had direct contact with the man who brought Ebola into the US or someone close to him, a public-health spokeswoman said today.
None of the people is showing symptoms, but health authorities have educated them about Ebola and told them to notify medical workers if they begin to feel ill. The group will be monitored to see if anyone seeks medical care during the three weeks immediately following the time of contact, said Erikka Neroes, of the Dallas County Health and Human Services agency.
Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus. The disease is not contagious until symptoms begin. It spreads only by close contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.
The 80 people include 12 to 18 who came in direct contact with the infected man, as well as others known to have had contact with them, she said.
"This is a big spider web" of people involved, Neroes said.
The initial group includes three members of the ambulance crew that took Duncan to the hospital, plus a handful of schoolchildren.
Health officials are focusing on containment to try to stem the possibility of the Ebola virus spreading beyond Duncan, who arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 to visit relatives and fell ill a few days later.
His sister, Mai Wureh, identified Duncan as the infected man in an interview with The Associated Press.