Dallas Ebola Patient Has Died, Hospital Says
Liberian national was first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died Wednesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Duncan had entered the United States on Sept. 20, apparently healthy and without symptoms of Ebola, the often fatal disease that has been sweeping through three West African nations since the spring. He first developed symptoms Sept. 24 and sought care two days later at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, but was released from the hospital. He was taken back to the hospital on Sept. 28 after his condition worsened.
Duncan, 42 years old, had been undergoing aggressive treatment, as well as ventilation and kidney dialysis.
No one who came into contact with Duncan after he arrived in Dallas from Liberia has come down with a fever or any other symptoms of Ebola, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a Tuesday afternoon news briefing.
Public health workers are monitoring 10 people confirmed to have had contact with Duncan after he fell ill with Ebola and became contagious, as well as 38 other suspected contacts. The 10 include several members of Duncan's family living in Dallas and the ambulance crew that transported him to the hospital, officials said.
Duncan had come to Dallas to marry Louise Troh, the mother of his estranged son, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Frieden said during a Wednesday afternoon news briefing that health officials will use extreme caution when handling Duncan's body.
"The sicker you get, the higher the amount of virus in your body," Frieden said, noting that the body of a person who dies from Ebola is teeming with the virus. CDC officials have worked very closely with family members to "respectfully make sure the human remains will be safely removed and handled so they will not pose a threat to anyone," he said.
Frieden added that Duncan is now "a face that we associate now with Ebola."
Meanwhile, U.S. officials said Wednesday that they would begin entry screening for "general overt signs of illnesses" at five airports for passengers arriving from West African nations hit hard by the Ebola epidemic.
The screenings will begin Saturday at Kennedy International Airport in New York City. They will begin next week at the four other airports -- Washington Dulles International, O'Hare International in Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta and Newark Liberty International in New Jersey.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if travelers have a fever or other Ebola symptoms or a health questionnaire reveals possible Ebola exposure, they will be evaluated by a CDC health officer. If health risks are detected, travelers "will be referred to the appropriate public health authority," the agency said in a news release.
The West African nations where Ebola is rampant are Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
"We believe these new measures will further protect the health of Americans, understanding that nothing we can do will get us to absolute zero risk until we end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa," Frieden said in the news release.
Elsewhere, the American medical missionary who was successfully treated for Ebola at an Atlanta hospital has donated blood to the latest American to be flown back to the United States for treatment of the disease.
Dr. Kent Brantly, who became infected while treating patients in West Africa, has donated blood to Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance TV cameraman who's undergoing treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
The hope is that Ebola antibodies in Brantly's blood will help Mukpo recover from the viral infection. Brantly received a blood donation from an Ebola survivor while in West Africa before undergoing rigorous drug and medical treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta last month.
Brantly made a similar blood donation to a fellow medical missionary and friend, Dr. Rick Sacra, who was successfully treated for Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center and released last month.
In what Nebraska Medical Center officials are calling "an amazing stroke of luck," Brantly -- the first American to return to the United States for treatment for Ebola -- was traveling in the Nebraska area when he was asked to donate blood to Mukpo. Mukpo was scheduled to receive the blood on Wednesday.
"It's not a likely scenario that he would again have the same blood type," Dr. Angela Hewlett, associate medical director of the Omaha medical center's Biocontainment Unit, said in a center news release. "We are incredibly grateful that Dr. Brantly would take the time to do this, not once, but twice."
Doctors can't say for sure whether blood donations from Ebola survivors can help with a cure because the handful of Ebola patients treated in the United States have also received aggressive drug therapy and sophisticated medical care.
U.S. officials also addressed Monday's revelation that a nursing assistant in Spain had become the first person known to catch Ebola outside of West Africa. She was part of a medical team that treated a 69-year-old Spanish priest who died in a Madrid hospital last month after being flown back from Sierra Leone.
Spanish health officials have quarantined several people at the hospital where the woman became infected and have decided to euthanize her dog, according to published reports.
The woman told her doctors she remembered touching her face with protective gloves while treating the priest. Spanish health officials were investigating Wednesday whether that contact with the face could have led to the woman's infection.
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the worst outbreak ever of the disease. So far, an estimated 8,000 people have become infected and an estimated 3,880 people have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.
For more on Ebola, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.