Thomas Eric Duncan dead: First US Ebola victim dies in a Texas hospital

Mr Duncan fell ill after he arrived in the US from Liberia two weeks ago

Kashmira Gander
Thursday 09 October 2014 06:26 BST

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US, has died according to the hospital where he was being treated.

"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," hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr Duncan became ill after he arrived in Texas from his home in Liberia two weeks ago on 20 September.

Due to the nature of the deadly virus he showed no symptoms when he passed through an airport health screening on his way to the US, but fell sick a few days - suffering from a fever, headache and abdominal pain.

Fearful of his condition, Mr Duncan visited the emergency room of Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas on 24 September, but was sent home. The hospital has since acknowledged that Mr Duncan had told them during this assessment that he had recently been to West Africa.

His death comes after doctors were unable to treat him the experimental drug ZMapp, after supplies ran out. The drug had been linked with the survival of American doctors and aid workers. However, there is no approved treatment or vaccine against the virus.

Mr Duncan's diagnosis has heightened fears that the deadly virus could spread from West Africa, where the epidemic started in March and has since killed more than 3,400 people.

Following Mr Duncan's death, US Secretary of State John Kerry made an urgent appeal for nations to "step up" their response to the virus and said more money, equipment and personnel were needed in the fight, the Huffington Post reported.

He added that while progress in combating the disease was being bade, it was far too slow.

Speaking with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Kerry said it is essential for airlines to keep flying to west Africa and for borders to remain open to allow for the movement of assistance and medical staff.

Officials in Dallas are now working to keep the virus contained, and around 48 people with whom Duncan had been in contact are being monitored.

The four people living in the northeast Dallas apartment where Duncan stayed have been isolated in a private residence.

Everyone who potentially had contact with Mr Duncan will be monitored for 21 days, the normal incubation period for the disease.

Health experts also trying to calm residents who fear they may contract Ebola, as the disease can be spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an already sick person. Experts have stressed that the chance of the disease spreading across the US is very small.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

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