Radio Sandwell News

US Ebola patient Thomas Duncan dies in hospital

2014-10-08 20:28:11

Thomas Duncan
Mr Duncan, shown here at a 2011 wedding in Ghana

The first person to be diagnosed with Ebola within the US has died, Texas hospital officials have said.

Thomas Eric Duncan, who caught the virus in his native Liberia, was being kept in isolation in a Dallas hospital and receiving experimental drugs.

Earlier the US announced new screening measures at entry points to check travellers for symptoms of the virus.

More than 3,000 people have died and 7,500 infected, mostly in West Africa, in the worst Ebola outbreak yet.

"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 am," a spokesman said in a statement.

The news came shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry urged all nations to boost their response to combat the virus.

"More countries can and must step up," he said in a joint press conference with his British counterpart Philip Hammond.

The US has pledged as many as 4,000 troops to the region, while the UK is sending 750 military personnel to Sierra Leone.

Duncan, who worked as a driver for a courier company, tested positive in Dallas, Texas, on 30 September, 10 days after arriving on a flight from Monrovia via Brussels.

He become ill a few days after arriving in the US but after going to hospital and telling them he had been to Liberia he was sent home with antibiotics.

Four days later, he was placed in isolation but his condition continued to worsen and this week he was given an experimental drug.

Ten people he came into contact with are being monitored for symptoms.

Following Duncan's diagnosis, the first case of contagion outside that continent was confirmed in Spain, where a nurse who treated an Ebola victim in Madrid contracted the virus herself.

Teresa Ramos
Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos is in quarantine after being infected in Madrid

Ebola spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the virus and the only way to stop an outbreak is to isolate those who are infected.

Earlier on Wednesday, US officials announced travellers from Ebola-affected countries will face increased security scrutiny at American airports.

The Department of Homeland Security has ordered agents at airports and other ports to take temperatures and question passengers at five US airports.

The new security measures, rolled out by the Transportation Security Administration, will reportedly take effect this weekend or early next week.

While Duncan was the first person to be diagnosed within the US, three American aid workers and a photojournalist contracted the virus in Liberia.

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% - but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus's natural host

Source: bbc.co.uk

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