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Minnesotans Worry About The Spread Of Ebola After First U.S. Case

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With news of the first Ebola case in the United States, Minnesotans are wondering what it means for them.

A man who traveled from Liberia to Dallas, TX, has been diagnosed with the deadly Ebola Virus.

The unidentified man is being kept in isolation at a Dallas hospital.

"It's a severe disease which has a high case fatality rate even with the best of care," Thomas Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control said.

Ebola has claimed more than 3,000 lives an ocean away.

Health officials said on Sept. 20 the victim arrived in Dallas from Liberia with no symptoms.

Four days later, he became ill and tests confirmed he has Ebola.

"There is going to be the possibility that we could see cases here in Minnesota," Doug Schultz of the Minnesota Department of Health said.

Schultz said the Dallas case really doesn't change the risk level here.

Since the outbreak started in West Africa in July, health officials have established a surveillance system with health care providers looking to Identify people who have traveled to West Africa and are showing symptoms of Ebola. Those include fever, headache and fatigue.

So far they identified 20 potential cases in Minnesota, but each case ended up being something else.

"Certainly the fact that we have a case in Dallas just means that we need to  continue the vigilance that we've already had in watching for possible cases of Ebola here in Minnesota," Schultz said.

"It's terrible. It's like a war going on without bullets," Samuel Topka, a Minnesota resident, said.

Topka grew up in Liberia and now lives in Brooklyn Park, Minn., which has one of the highest concentrations of Liberians in the U.S.

Topka is worried about his family back home, and about travel from West Africa to Minnesota.

"With the huge population in Minnesota of Liberians I'm afraid if that happened here, who knows? It's a scary thing," Topka said.

The CDC said they have no doubt they'll be able to keep this Ebola case from spreading.

They're keeping a close eye on the people the victim came into contact with.

It can take as long as 21 days for Ebola symptoms to show and it spreads through blood and bodily fluids.

It can only spread when symptoms are showing.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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