Indianapolis hospitals monitor, prepare as Ebola arrives in the U.S.

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By Kendall Downing

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A patient in Dallas, Texas is the first to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus on United States soil. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.

The killer virus is ravaging West Africa. Now the attention turns to making sure it does not spread here in America.

The man in question left Liberia on September 19th and arrived in the United States on September 20th, without symptoms. Four of five days later he began feeling ill, according to the CDC. The patient is now in intensive care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Now hospitals here in Indianapolis are on alert.

Ebola virus.

Ebola virus.

"They undoubtedly had contact with someone who was sick from Ebola or who died from it," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Frieden briefed the country Tuesday on the critically ill man in Dallas. He spoke cautiously about the risk posted in the states and any fears Americans may have.

"The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country," he said.

The talk of Ebola and what to do if a case showed up in Indianapolis has been going on for months.

"Back in April, we first began to make the hospitals aware through our intelligence brief," said Tim Stephens, CEO of MESH Coalition.

MESH Coalition is a partnership of the city's public and private hospital systems for emergency preparedness and safety. Stephens said the CDC started passing guidelines along to hospitals in August, and facilities in Indianapolis are ready should a case come through through the door.

"The hospitals, their partners are aware of this. They are aware of how people are infected," he said, "We do have that equipment and those capacities. They would be used on a regular basis, whether the case was Ebola or some other infectious disease of concern," said Stephens.

Stephens isn't surprised by Tuesday's announcement but anticipates this case won't be the only one.

The Ebola epidemic continues to ravage West Africa. This photo was taken in Kailahun, Sierra Leone in August 2014.

The Ebola epidemic continues to ravage West Africa. This photo was taken in Kailahun, Sierra Leone in August 2014.

"This doesn't stop more cases coming in on the airplanes," he said.

Public health officials want to make it clear that Ebola is not like the common cold.

The virus is only spread by someone who is sick and showing symptoms, and the transmission comes through contact with bodily fluids.

See the full CDC press conference from Tuesday below: