Dallas Ebola Patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, Dies

Ebola Patient in Dallas, Thomas Eric Duncan, Dies

Oct. 8, 2014 — Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, has died of the disease.

He died at 7:51 a.m. Central time on Wednesday, more than a week after tests confirmed he had Ebola, according to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where he was being treated.

Also Wednesday, U.S. officials said enhanced Ebola screening would begin this week for travelers arriving at the country’s five busiest airports from West Africa.

Travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – the three nations hardest-hit by the Ebola outbreak – will be escorted to airport areas set aside for screening, observed for signs of illness, given a health questionnaire, and have their temperatures taken, the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security said. 

If they have a fever or symptoms, or if the questionnaire reveals possible Ebola exposure, the travelers will be checked by a health officer. They’ll be referred to “the appropriate public health authority” if further evaluation is needed.

The CDC is sending additional staff to the five airports, which are:

  • JFK in New York
  • Dulles outside of Washington, D.C.
  • O’Hare in Chicago
  • Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta
  • Newark outside New York

These airports receive more than 94% of travelers from the three West African countries, officials say.

Screening at JFK will begin Saturday, according to the CDC. Screening at the other four airports will begin next week.

More on Duncan

Duncan, 42, was a citizen of Liberia. He was evaluated and had his temperature taken before he flew to the U.S. from Monrovia, but he did not have a fever or other symptoms before he arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 to visit his family, officials have said.

On Sept. 24, he began feeling unwell. The following evening, a low-grade fever and some abdominal pain prompted him to go to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he told a nurse that he’d recently traveled from Liberia.  Despite that, he was prescribed a course of antibiotics — which would have been useless against a viral infection — and released.

The hospital has since admitted that Duncan’s travel history wasn’t properly relayed between staff members, and as a result, the doctor who treated him didn’t suspect Ebola.

Two days later, when he was taken back to the hospital by ambulance, his fever had spiked, and he was vomiting and having bouts of diarrhea. He was immediately placed in isolation. More tests by a Texas state lab and the CDC confirmed the Ebola diagnosis.

By that time, health officials determined he had made contact with around 48 people, including five school-aged children, though most of those exposures were considered to be low risk.  Ten people, including four family members, were being closely watched. The family members are under a court order to remain home and avoid contact with others, the Texas Department of State Health Services says.

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