The first patient ever diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States is reportedly called Thomas Duncan, 42, is a Liberian citizen. Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zachary Thompson said county officials suspect that 12 to 18 people may have had contact with Duncan, including five elementary, middle and high school students. The children, who attend four different schools, went to classes earlier in the week but show no symptoms of the deadly disease and will be monitored at home, officials said.
Duncan first started feeling ill on September 24 and he went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 26th, complaining of fever and abdominal pain. Moreover the patient told a nurse he had come from West Africa, according to Dr. Mark Lester, a vice president for the hospital system. But he was sent back home, as the “overall clinical presentation” didn’t suggest Ebola, Lester said. But Duncan returned two days later, on Sept. 28, in an ambulance. This time, the hospital staff treated him as an Ebola case and used all the right precautions to protect themselves from infection and to keep him away from other patients.
In a press conference on Tuesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden said the patient in question was traveling through Liberia, where he may have contracted the disease. He entered the United States on the 20th of September, after which he sought care. Reports surfaced that the man is a Liberian national in the U.S. visiting relatives.
It seems Duncan had tried to help a woman sick with the virus find treatment two weeks ago. But unable to find a place in a local hospital, the woman’s family took her back to her home, where she died a few hours later.
“When patients are turned away at Ebola treatment centers, they have no choice but to return to their communities and homes, where they inevitably infect others, perpetuating constantly higher flare-ups in the number of cases,” the WHO said in a statement.
The two days that Duncan was sick and not isolated will be key to whether Ebola spreads in the United States. Now he is in serious, but stable condition.