Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan has died in a Dallas hospital. The Liberian had been at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in isolation since September 28.
As Yahoo! News reports, Duncan is now the first person to die of the disease in the United States. More than 3,400 have died in West Africa this year, but three Americans who contracted the disease and returned to the U.S. for treatment have survived. An unnamed doctor and a cameraman named Ashoka Mukpo are still being treated.
Duncan traveled from Liberia to Dallas on September 20 to visit family. He did not have any Ebola symptoms when he boarded the flight to the U.S. Five days after arriving in Texas, a friend took him to the emergency room. He was reportedly given antibiotics and sent home. At this point, no solid explanation has been given for how the Ebola diagnosis was missed, especially given the information that he has just been in West Africa.
Two days later, Duncan was worse, and an ambulance transported him back to the hospital. Dozens of people, including neighbors, family members and paramedics, are now being closely monitored for signs of the disease. Duncan’s Ebola wasn’t confirmed until two days after his return to the hospital and his isolation.
ABC News notes that the hospital confirmed Thomas Eric Duncan’s death Wednesday morning. They noted that he fought the battle courageously, and that the staff who worked with him are grieving his passing.
Many are looking at circumstances both in Liberia and the U.S. regarding how this case was handled. On the Liberian side, reports indicate that Duncan had helped a pregnant woman who was vomiting and convulsing get to the hospital. It is unclear whether he knew she had Ebola, but officials feel that he lied on health forms he completed at the airport.
Federal guidelines indicate that someone with Duncan’s background, having just been in West Africa, with his symptoms, should have immediately been put into isolation and tested for Ebola. Neither of those things happened, and the Centers for Disease Control has sent an alert to all hospitals updating how similar situations should be handled.
At this point, none of the people the Dallas patient had contact with have developed symptoms of the virus. While Duncan had been in serious condition for a bit, four days ago he was downgraded to critical. Just before Thomas Eric Duncan’s death he had started receiving the experimental antiviral drug brincidofovir, but clearly it was too late to help.
[Image via Eurweb]