First US Ebola Patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, Dies, May Be Cremated


Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, the first person to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus on US soil is dead. Thomas Duncan died 7:51 am at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after a little over a week after being diagnosed with the deadly Ebola disease and then placed under isolation at the Dallas hospital.

Wendell Watson, the hospital spokesman had announced in an email “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.” And the hospital had placed the deceased’s age at 45.

And Duncan’s former wife, Louise Troh, for whom he came down to the US to discuss getting together again and remarriage had written from her quarantined isolation that “His suffering is over. My family is in deep sadness and grief, but we leave him in the hands of God.”

Duncan was a Liberian national who flew to the US when he was yet to show any Ebola symptoms to see his former wife and kid, before coming down with the disease a few days after his arrival on US soil. Duncan had contracted the disease in Liberia when he helped an Ebola patient who had eventually died, Marthalene Williams, to a Monrovian hospital. He had then boarded a plane and come over to the US the day after without displaying any symptoms of the disease.

Duncan’s health had become critical and deteriorated a few days ago and placed on a ventilator at his isolated ward at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, and treated with the FDA-approved experimental medication, Brincidofovir, during which time his fluid and electrolytes were monitored.

But following his death, Thomas Geisbert, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch who had also done some pioneering work on Ebola treatments stated that “you can have the best drug in the world and there is a point where that drug just won’t work. There is a point where the virus has done so much damage you can’t recover from it.”

Although the hospital has not given details on how to dispose of Duncan’s body, it might follow protocols from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) which might apply protocols for cremation. In this case, the body will be carefully enclosed in two protective bags that had been disinfected and then transported to the facility for cremation.

Following this development, the US government has ordered the screening of airport passengers from West Africa in five airports. Passengers from West Africa will now be screened with a non-invasive device for symptoms of fever after filling out a questionnaire designed by the CDC. The airport screening will be commence at John F. Kennedy’s airport in New York, Newark Liberty airport, Washington Dulles airport, Chicago O’Hare airport, and Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta.

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