Anxiety Grows in US After Death of Texas Ebola Patient

7 years, 3 months ago - October 10, 2014
A possible Ebola patient is brought to the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas.

A possible Ebola patient is brought to the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas.

Hours after Thomas Eric Duncan became first Ebola fatality in the US, official who had visited contaminated apartment shows ‘some’ symptoms

The heightened sense of anxiety over the spread of Ebola to the US was amplified on Wednesday when Thomas Eric Duncan, the first man diagnosed with the disease outside Africa, died and a law enforcement official was admitted to hospital after having been in the apartment where Duncan stayed.

 “The risk is minimal,” Maher Maso, the mayor of Frisco, a northern Dallas suburb, said at a hastily-called press conference about the law enforcement official, a Dallas county sheriff’s deputy, on Wednesday afternoon. He added that authorities are moving forward “with an abundance of caution”.

Frisco fire chief Mark Piland said the man had visited the apartment where Duncan stayed after he arrived in the US last week and interacted with some of the people who live there, all of whom are under quarantine and not exhibiting symptoms. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital after going to an urgent care facility with “some” Ebola-like symptoms, which can also be symptoms of other illnesses. The ambulance crew who helped the sheriff into the vehicle wore protective suits and carried out decontamination procedures.

The man was admitted to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas, where hours earlier Duncan succumbed to the Ebola virus, the hospital confirmed.

 “Right now, there are more questions than answers about this case,” the hospial said in a statement. The Ebola test takes about 48 hours to return results.

Based upon the “low risk” posed by the man, everyone in the urgent care waiting room was asked to monitor their health but allowed to leave.

Health officials are monitoring 48 people who may have come into contact with Duncan, only 10 of whom are considered “high risk” and under quarantine. The man admitted to the hospital on Wednesday was not one of the individuals being monitored, Piland said.

Authorities were criticised last week for the time it took to decontaminate the apartment in which Duncan was staying, and their failure to lock it down to prevent unauthorised entries and exits.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said that this does not appear to be a case of Ebola. The deputy isn’t showing typical symptoms of the virus and never came in direct contact with Duncan.

The head of the CDC, Thomas Frieden, urged hospitals to “think Ebola”, and respond quickly to patients who display symptoms of the disease and have the relevant travel history.

Frieden said several ill people have been tested for Ebola due to the heightened awareness of the disease.

“Right now there is only one patient who’s ever been diagnosed with Ebola in the US and that individual tragically died today,” he said on Wednesday. 

Frieden said he is deeply saddened over Duncan’s death, and said it was a tragic reminder of the deadliness of this disease.

“His is a fate that we associate now with Ebola,” Frieden said. “Since the start of the epidemic 3,742 patients in west Africa have been documented to have died from the disease. We don’t have their faces as prominently in front of us, and we know that even more people have been affected. But we think about this and we remember what a deadly enemy Ebola is.”


Text by Guardian

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