DALLAS - The Ebola patient in a hospital here is "fighting for his life," but he remains the only confirmed victim of the disease in the United States, and public health officials remain confident about their ability to contain the disease, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.
While expressing such confidence about the American effort, the director, Dr. Tom Frieden, said on CNN's State of the Union that in Africa, "the virus is spreading so fast that it's hard to keep up."
Frieden said that the condition of the patient in Dallas, a Liberian man named Thomas E. Duncan, was "quite critical," having been changed on Saturday from serious. "We understand that his situation has taken a turn for the worse," he said at a news conference in Atlanta Sunday afternoon.
Officials in Dallas continued to scramble to contain the spread of the disease, monitor those Duncan came into contact with and decontaminate the apartment where he had been staying with his girlfriend and three of her relatives.
She and the three others were moved to a temporary home Friday and remain under orders not to leave the premises. None of the four have reported any symptoms of Ebola, officials said.
On Sunday, city and county officials said they had found a homeless man who was among those being monitored. The man rode in the ambulance that took Duncan to the hospital, before the vehicle was taken out of service and cleaned. Officials said the man, whom they identified as Michael Lively, had been monitored Saturday and was asymptomatic.
Prosecutors here are considering whether to bring charges against Duncan following reports that he had contact with a woman who ended up dying of Ebola in Liberia and later lied about that contact before boarding a plane to the United States.
"We are actively having discussions as to whether or not we need to look into this as it relates to a criminal matter," Dallas County's district attorney, Craig Watkins, said on the TV program Lone Star Politics on Sunday. "We're working with all the different agencies to get to the bottom of it."
His spokeswoman said prosecutors had previously filed aggravated assault charges against people who were HIV positive and knowingly had unprotected sex with others; and it was possible the same charge may apply in Duncan's case.