Ebola epidemic (illustration)
Ebola epidemic (illustration)Thinkstock

America has been in a race against the clock to prevent the spread of the lethal Ebola virus, following reports Tuesday that the first case of the disease in the country had been diagnosed in Dallas.

Four people who came in contact with the man, Thomas Eric Duncan, have been quarantined. Another roughly 12 to 18 who came in direct physical contact are being monitored, with an additional 100 being investigated by health officials for possible exposure.

Duncan was visiting his son and his son's mother in Dallas. Evidently the woman is one of the four quarantined, along with one of her children aged under 13 and two nephews in their 20s, reports CNN.

The epidemic's spread to America seems to have been brought about by dishonesty on Duncan's part, as he is thought to have lied in an inspection before taking a commercial flight from Liberia to Dallas on September 20, saying he had not come in contact with anyone eventually diagnosed with Ebola.

The Liberian government revealed Duncan neglected to mention he had helped his neighbor Marthalene Williams to seek treatment after she fell critically ill on September 15, and later died of the disease.

If Duncan survives his bout with Ebola, which has him in critical condition, he likely has a court case waiting for him back in Liberia. Liberia Airport Authority board chairman Binyah Kesselly said Thursday they would "seek to prosecute" him if he had indeed lied on his screening questionnaire.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf conferred on Thursday, saying "the fact that he knew and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly."

Ebola on the first day of work

Meanwhile in Western Africa, where the virus had killed at least 3,338 people, an American cameraman was diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia on Wednesday, a mere day after being hired by NBC News.

The freelance cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo, becomes the fourth America to come down with Ebola in Liberia - all the other three have recovered. 

'We are doing everything we can to get him the best care possible. He will be flown back to the United States for treatment at a medical center that is equipped to handle Ebola patients," read a note by the news company's president Deborah Turness.

Mukpo was reportedly hired as a second cameraman for Dr. Nancy Snyderman, who is the chief medical editor and correspondent for the company.

"The rest of the crew, including Dr. Nancy, are being closely monitored and show no symptoms or warning signs. However, in an abundance of caution, we will fly them back on a private charter flight and then they will place themselves under quarantine in the United States for 21 days - which is at the most conservative end of the spectrum of medical guidance," added Turness.

The disease, which has a 51% mortality rate, can only be transmitted by contact with the bodily fluids of someone ill with the virus.