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Ebola patient's contacts being monitored
02:21 - Source: CNN

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Story highlights

NEW: U.S. official to CNN: The situation is a "screw-up"

Dallas mayor: The patient came into contact with up to 20 people

Hospital says symptoms 'did not warrant admission' last week

NIH official on hospital: "They dropped the ball"

CNN  — 

The first person to be diagnosed with Ebola on American soil went to the emergency room last week, but was released from the hospital even though he told staff he had traveled from Liberia.

“A travel history was taken, but it wasn’t communicated to the people who were making the decision. … It was a mistake. They dropped the ball,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“You don’t want to pile on them, but hopefully this will never happen again. … The CDC has been vigorously emphasizing the need for a travel history,” Fauci told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

Hospital officials have acknowledged that the patient’s travel history wasn’t “fully communicated” to doctors, but also said in a statement Wednesday that based on his symptoms, there was no reason to admit him when he first came to the emergency room last Thursday night.

“At that time, the patient presented with low-grade fever and abdominal pain. His condition did not warrant admission. He also was not exhibiting symptoms specific to Ebola,” Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said.

The patient, identified by his half-brother as Thomas Eric Duncan, told hospital staff that he was from Liberia, a friend who knows him well said.

A nurse asked the patient about his recent travels while he was in the emergency room, and the patient said he had been in Africa, said Dr. Mark Lester, executive vice president of Texas Health Resources. But that information was not “fully communicated” to the medical team, Lester said.

The man underwent basic blood tests, but not an Ebola screening, and was sent home with antibiotics, said Dr. Edward Goodman with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Three days later, the man returned to the facility, where it was determined that he probably had Ebola. He was then isolated.