Family of Texas Ebola patient ordered to stay home

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas and Dallas County health officials say they’ve ordered the family of the Ebola patient in Dallas to stay home, out of an abundance of caution. To prevent the potential spread of disease, they’re also asking the family not have any visitors.

“We have tried-and-true protocols to protect the public and stop the spread of this disease,” said Texas Health Commissioner Dr. David Lakey. “This order gives us the ability to monitor the situation in the most meticulous way.”

The local health department had previously told the family to stay home, but a strict public health control order is needed to make sure the family is doing what they’re asked to do during these potentially risky times. Still, health officials are pointing out that Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear, and the family members do not have symptoms at this time.

Local health officials hand-delivered the orders to the family members Wednesday evening, and the orders legally require the family to stay at home and not have any visitors without approval from the local or State Health Department until at least Oct. 19. The order is in place until the incubation period has passed and the family is no longer at risk of having the disease.

In addition, the order requires the family to be available to give blood samples and agree to any testing required by public health officials. The family must also immediately report any symptoms to Dallas County Health and Human Services. Symptoms include fever above 100.5 degrees, headache, nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

“We are working from a list of about 100 potential or possible contacts and will soon have an official contact-tracing number that will be lower,” said Carrie Williams, spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services. “Out of an abundance of caution, we’re starting with this very wide net, including people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home. The number will drop as we focus in on those whose contact may represent a potential risk of infection.”​

Texas law allows the State Health Department and the local health authority to issue control measures to a person who is sick with, has been exposed to, or is the carrier of a communicable disease. Control measures, by law, can include isolation, quarantine and preventive therapy. If a person does not follow these orders, they can be enforced by the courts, and the person can face criminal charges.

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