By RYAN GORMAN
The man diagnosed with Ebola in Texas came into contact with school schoolchildren now being monitored by health experts, officials have revealed.
Texas Governor Rick Perry made the surprise announcement during a Wednesday afternoon press conference only one day after federal officials revealed a man in Dallas had become the first Ebola diagnosis in the U.S. He has been identified as Thomas Eric Duncan.
Officials have also determined Duncan came into contact with about 12 to 18 people since returning from Africa. He flew from Liberia to Brussels before connecting to a Dallas-bound flight, a Canadian health officials told Reuters.
"Today we learned that some school-aged children have been identified as having had some contact with the patient and are now being monitored at home," said Perry.
The interaction between Duncan and the children came before he showed symptoms, Perry stressed. They are being kept out of classes while being monitored as a precaution.
Dallas school officials said the children had no symptoms while in classes.
The four schools attended by the five students have taken precautions including staffing extra health professionals to answer questions and check flu-like symptoms.
Additional custodians have also been added to provide further cleanliness.
Federal officials said yesterday that the virus can be killed simply by washing one's hands with soap and water.
Health officials are scrambling to identify further people who may have come into contact with the man, who contracted the deadly virus during a recent trip to Liberia.
"When the patient arrived on Sunday, he was recognized as a possible case," said Dr. Edwin Goodman, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital epidemiologist. "He was placed in isolation and there have been no exposures since."
Goodman added that there "is little likelihood a healthcare worker was exposed."
It was also revealed that 133 Centers for Disease Control personnel are on the ground in West Africa trying to help combat the killer virus.
Perry insisted Texas is best positioned to combat Ebola because of preparations that began months ago.
"There are few places in the world better equipped to meet the challenge that is posed in this case," said Perry.
Texas is one of only 13 states certified by the CDC to test for the Ebola virus. The state has been able test for Ebola since August, according to Perry.
"We have healthcare professionals and institutions that are second to none," Perry said.
Officials also again stressed that Ebola is not an airborne threat.
"It's not going to be transmitted through the air, through casual contact with other individuals," said the governor. "It's harder to contract than the common cold."
The death toll from this deadly Ebola outbreak has hit 3,338 people, according the World Health Organization.
Texas officials are adamant the death toll will not be added to in their state.
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