DALLAS

Four members of a family the U.S. Ebola patient was staying with were confined to their Texas home under armed guard Thursday as the circle of people possibly exposed to the virus widened, while Liberian authorities said they would prosecute the man for allegedly lying on an airport questionnaire.

The unusual confinement order was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request not to leave their apartment, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Texas State Health Commissioner David Lakey said the order would help ensure the four can be closely watched, including checking them for fevers over the next three weeks.

“We didn’t have the confidence we would have been able to monitor them the way that we needed to,” he said.

The family will not be allowed to receive visitors, officials said.

A woman who lives in the apartment, Louise Troh, said she has been quarantined with her 13-year-old son and two nephews.

Troh said she was waiting for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect a bag of the bed sheets and towels Thomas Eric Duncan used.

A hazardous material crew arrived to decontaminate the apartment Thursday evening but did not have the required permits to clean the home and remove hazardous waste, city spokesman Richard Hill said. He said the crew, contracted by the county and state, will return to complete the job today.

The family must also be relocated before the cleanup can begin, Hill said. He had no information on where the family will go.

Visitors from the American Red Cross were seen Thursday bringing food to the apartment door. The North Texas Food Bank said it sent three days of cereal, tuna, produce and other supplies.

The virus that causes Ebola is not airborne and can only be spread through close contact with someone who has symptoms. People must come into direct contact with the patient’s bodily fluids — blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen — and those fluids must have an entry point.

Ebola dried on surfaces can survive for several hours, according to the CDC.

For example, people might get infected by handling soiled clothing or bed sheets and then touching their nose, mouth or eyes, or if they are not wearing gloves while doing those tasks and have a cut on their hand.

Neighbors in the Liberian capital believe Duncan become infected when he helped bundle a sick pregnant neighbor into a taxi a few weeks ago and set off with her to find treatment. However, it was not clear whether he had learned of the woman’s diagnosis before traveling.

Nonetheless, Liberian authorities announced plans to prosecute Duncan, accusing him of lying about not having any contact with an infected person.

Duncan answered questions about his health and activities before leaving for Dallas. Among the questions asked on the Sept. 19 form, obtained by The Associated Press, one asked whether Duncan had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of anyone who had died in an area affected by Ebola. He answered no to all the questions.

Duncan arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 and fell ill a few days later. His sister, Mai Wureh, identified him as the infected man in an interview with The Associated Press.

A Dallas emergency room sent Duncan home last week, even though he told a nurse that he had been in diseaseravaged West Africa, and raising questions as to whether the decision to release him may have put others at risk of exposure to Ebola.

In a statement emailed late Thursday, the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said that it followed communicable disease protocols by also asking Duncan if he had come into contact with anyone who was ill, to which he replied he had not. At that point his symptoms were a temperature of 100.1F, two days of abdominal pain, a headache and decreased urination, the hospital said. He said he had no nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, and based on that information, the hospital decided to release him.

He returned to the facility two days layer and has been kept in isolation at the hospital since Sunday. He was listed Thursday in serious but stable condition.

Liberia is one of the three countries hit hardest in the epidemic, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.



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