The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Tuesday the first case of Ebola in the United States.
Tom Frieden, the CDC's director, said the patient had come from Liberia, and did not show any symptoms when he arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20. During a news conference late Tuesday afternoon, Frieden said the situation is being closely monitored.
"It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual ... could develop Ebola in the coming weeks," he said. "But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."
According to Frieden, public health officials will be working to identify all of those who may have had contact with the patient while he could have been infectious. Once identified, these individuals will be monitored for 21 days to see if they develop symptoms, he said.
Contact tracing is "a core public health function," the CDC director said, explaining this process will include interviewing the patient if possible, identifying all possible names of people with whom he may have come into contact, and outlining all movements that he could have made during the infectious period.
"We always err on the side of identifying and tracking more contacts rather than less," Frieden said.
He added that "a handful" of people could have been exposed to the patient before he came in for treatment.
A Texas hospital patient has tested positive for the disease, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement before the CDC's press conference. The test was conducted at the state public health laboratory in Austin.
The patient had recently traveled to West Africa and developed symptoms "days after returning to Texas from West Africa and was admitted into isolation on Sunday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas," the Texas Department of State Health Services statement said.
Frieden said the CDC is sending a team to Texas to help state and local officials with identifying and monitoring those who may have been infected.