DALLAS — The first person diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil has died. Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, died at 7:51 a.m. CDT, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital reported Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Duncan contracted the virus in Monrovia, Liberia, where he lived, days before flying to Dallas and developing signs of the disease. About 48 people he had contact with during his brief fatal illness in Dallas are being closely monitored, some under quarantine, according to news reports.
A second patient who contracted the virus in Liberia, U.S. journalist Ashoka Mukpo, has been receiving treatment since Oct. 6 at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha as the virus continues to spread beyond West Africa where the current epidemic originated.
“It is with profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment that we must inform you of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan this morning at 7:51 a.m.,” Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in a press release on its website. “Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola. He fought courageously in this battle.
“Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing,” the hospital said. “We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time.”
Little has been reported about Duncan’s life in Liberia, other than reports that he likely contracted the virus while helping a pregnant neighbor who was sick and vomiting. Liberian government officials had planned to prosecute him for traveling to the U.S. without disclosing on travel documents his contact with an Ebola patient, but some news reports question whether Duncan knew the cause of the woman’s illness.
Duncan was visiting a friend, son and other relatives in Dallas, according to news reports. At least five people who shared an apartment with him during his visit have been quarantined.
Duncan had been in isolation at the hospital since Sept. 28 and had been receiving the experimental antiviral drug brincidofovir, which received emergency approval from the FDA for Duncan’s treatment. Mukpo is receiving the same drug, along with blood donated by Kent Brantly, a medical missionary who recovered from Ebola.
Brantly had received another experimental treatment which is currently unavailable, its limited supply depleted, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Brantly and Mukpo are among five Americans diagnosed with Ebola in Africa who received treatment in the U.S. A World Health Organization health worker arrived Sept. 9 in Atlanta for treatment and two others, Nancy Writebol and Rick Sacra have made full recoveries. The WHO worker’s condition has not been updated.
A woman living in Nashville has lost six family members to Ebola in Liberia, she told BP news Oct. 2. Juanita Logan, a 55-year-old in Nashville, emigrated to the U.S. from Liberia in 1993.
“It’s a bad, ugly virus,” Logan has said.
The virus has killed more than 3,400 in West Africa, according to the CDC, and if unabated, could infect up to 1.4 million people by January 2015.
— BP report