At least four family members of Ebola-confirmed patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, are essentially quarantined for the next 17 days, according to Texas health officials.
Out of an abundance of caution, Texas and Dallas County health officials have ordered four close family members of the Dallas Ebola patient to stay home and not have any visitors to prevent the potential spread of disease.
“We have tried and true protocols to protect the public and stop the spread of this disease,” said Dr. David Lakey, Texas health commissioner. “This order gives us the ability to monitor the situation in the most meticulous way.”
The local health department had previously instructed the family to stay home, but a strict public health control order is needed to ensure compliance. Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. The family members do not have symptoms at this time.
The orders were hand delivered to the family members Wednesday evening by local health officials. 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.
The order requires the family to be available to provide blood samples and agree to any testing required by public health officials and to immediately report any symptoms to Dallas County Health and Human Services. Symptoms include fever above 100.5 degrees, headache, nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain.
Texas law allows the state health department and the local health authority to issue control measures to a person who is ill with, has been exposed to, or is the carrier of a communicable disease. (Health and Safety Code §81.083). 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.