The first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States initially sought treatment six days after arriving in the country, potentially exposing a "handful" of family members and others to the virus, a top U.S. health official said on Tuesday.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he had no doubt that local and federal health authorities could contain the potential spread of the deadly virus in the country.

The United States is discussing the possible use of experimental drugs or blood plasma from a recovered Ebola patient as a potential treatment for the patient, a top health official said on Tuesday.

"It is certainly possible someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks," Frieden told a press conference. "I have no doubt we will stop this in its tracks in the United States."

The patient was hospitalized at a Dallas hospital on Sunday after traveling from Liberia, one of the countries hit hardest by the worst Ebola outbreak on record.