Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who flew to Texas, and was the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed and confirmed in the U.S., died Wednesday.
Officials from Texas Health Presbyterian, the hospital where he was treated, said he fought courageously, but was pronounced dead at 7:51am.
Duncan first came to the hospital on September 26th, complaining of symptoms of Ebola. The visit prompted deep concern and some panic as the public watched the case unfold in Dallas.
Ebola is transmitted primarily through direct physical contact with an ill person or their bodily fluids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts say Ebola patients are contagious only once they are displaying symptoms, which include fever above 101.5 degrees, severe headaches, muscle pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
The disease gained global attention last December when the outbreak occurred in West Africa. The virus has killed more than 3,400 people worldwide.
Eight people in Los Angeles County have been tested, but were not found to carry the disease. Centinela Hospital Medical Center Emergency Department in Inglewood tested another Liberian man Tuesday after an ambulance transported him from LAX.
According to a statement from Centinela, “The patient does not have any symptoms of Ebola, however due to travel history appropriate precautions were implemented. Acute Communicable Disease Control and DPH were immediately contacted. The patient will remain fully isolated in the hospital’s ER for continued evaluation and all appropriate testing will be conducted in consultation with the CDC.”
“They acted quickly and decisively in determining the status of the patient and contacted all necessary authorities. Myself and our Chief Medical Officer, Paryus Patel, MD have been in close communication with CDPH, CDC and all appropriate public health agencies. We are taking all steps to ensure our patients, their families, staff, and the community are protected. The hospital is fully open to seeing patients,” said CEO Linda Bradley.
All patients who might have the Ebola virus are quarantined until all tests are completed.
Elsewhere, a freelance cameraman remains hospitalized in Nebraska with the virus. His is the second confirmed Ebola case in the U.S. According to CBS News, the man is taking an experimental drug called brincidofovir, which is an oral medication developed to fight several other viruses. Laboratory tests suggested it may also work against Ebola.
Federal officials said that 5 U.S. airports will begin screening passengers traveling from the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea—countries hardest hit by the epidemic—as early as this weekend. The screenings will include taking the passengers’ temperatures with a gun-like, noncontact thermometer and requiring them to fill out a questionnaire.
Airports include JFK International (New York); Washington Dulles International (Washington, DC); O’Hare International (Chicago); Hartsfield-Jackson International (Atlanta); and and Newark Liberty International (New Jersey).
LAX has not announced Ebola passenger screening. However, health officials say they are ready should the virus spread to Los Angeles.
"I have very high confidence that we are prepared to respond to a case of Ebola should it occur ... and that our collective efforts would prevent spread to others," said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county's interim health officer.
Meanwhile, family members of Thomas Eric Duncan have raised questions over his care, and have demanded a full investigation. A major concern is why Duncan was initially sent home after showing signs of Ebola and telling the hospital he had come from Liberia. Another issue is why it took the hospital 10 days to get the experimental drug to him when the effects of Ebola are so devastating and fast moving
Duncan’s body will be cremated, Texas health officials said.