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Neighbors Of Ebola Patient Feel 'Discriminated Against'

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) -- Residents in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood of Dallas are living near the epicenter of the Ebola scare in North Texas. Now, they say they're facing a different challenge -- discrimination.

Thomas Duncan stayed at an apartment in the community before being diagnosed with Ebola and admitted into Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for treatment.

Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates says that she met with over 30 community leaders on Monday, trying to assess the needs of the residents. Most are concerned about the possible stigma of living near the apartment building.

"Unfortunately, they are feeling discriminated against," said Gates. "We still have some that have been turned away from jobs. Some that have been turned away at retail locations. We're getting them in touch with legal aid and any resources necessary."

Complete Coverage Of Ebola In Dallas

Gates believes that educating the public is the only way to reverse the stigma.

"These residents, unless they happen to be one of those that were exposed that are being traced, they are not at risk for getting the disease and are not at risk for transmitting the diseases," said Gates.

Forty eight individuals have been identified as "high risk" patients. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says these individuals are being seen once a day and are having their temperatures checked twice daily.

"We have zero symptoms out there," said Rawlings. "Zero. That is a good sign."

A cleaning crew has also finished "Phase 2" of the apartment cleaning process, having destroyed the majority of Duncan's personal items. Additional cleaning items were carried away in a drum with a police escort on Monday.

"As of noon today, that apartment is completely cleaned up."

Gates says that the faith community is working to help disseminate information to community members. However, the task has been challenging with over 40 languages and dialects spoken in the community.

Organizations are working to translate the information to effectively communicate with everyone.

"It's about you, the public, spreading the word about how this disease is spread. This community is healthy."

Volunteers and donations are still needed to aid in the difficult process, which is consuming many of the community's resources.

"This is a vulnerable community that could use all the help that they can get."

Rev. Jesse Jackson announced on Twitter that he will be traveling to Dallas Tuesday to discuss Ebola concerns with local pastors and community leaders.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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