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Sunday, April 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Officials Reassure Public|After Ebola Patient Dies

DALLAS (CN) - Reaction has been swift to this morning's death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first domestic case of Ebola, from government leaders seeking to calm the public about the monitoring of people who came into contact with him.

Duncan's fiancee, Louise Troh, said, "His suffering is over."

"My family is in deep sadness and grief, but we leave him in the hands of God," she said in a statement Wednesday. "Our deepest sympathies go out to his father and family in Liberia and here in America. Eric was a wonderful man who showed compassion toward all."

Duncan, 42, of Liberia, apparently caught the disease after helping an ill, pregnant woman to the hospital in Liberia days before his Sept. 20 trip to Dallas to get married.

Duncan became ill and was sent home from the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on Sept. 26, with only antibiotics.

He was admitted to the hospital two days later after developing symptoms of Ebola and was placed in quarantine. The hospital has since been under fire for releasing Duncan after his first visit.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Tuesday accused the hospital of not treating Duncan properly because he was black and uninsured .

Troh said: "I trust a thorough examination will take place regarding all aspects of his care. I am now dealing with the sorrow and anger that his son was not able to see him before he died."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings sent his condolences to Duncan's family Wednesday and told the public that local authorities will "stop Ebola in its tracks from spreading" to others.

"I want to reinforce to the public that this was an isolated incident of the Ebola virus, contracted by the individual while residing in another country," Rawlings said. "This is sad news for all involved. We will continue to work in partnership with Dallas County to do everything possible to protect our public health and all of the City of Dallas."

Five students in Dallas have been identified as having contact with Duncan, the Dallas Independent School District said.

"To date, the five students who possibly had contact with Mr. Duncan still do not show any signs or symptoms of the virus and therefore are not contagious," the district said in a statement. "They continue to be served through the district's Homebound program during the 21-day observation period."

School district officials on Oct. 1 ordered "enhanced" cleaning at five schools "out of an abundance of caution." Cleaning will continue throughout the week.

"Today our thoughts are with our students who knew Mr. Duncan," DISD said. "The district will make available counseling services to students and staff most affected."

Dr. David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said the case was "an enormous test of our health system."

He expressed his condolences to Duncan's family and defended the care provided by Presbyterian Hospital.

"The doctors, nurses and staff at Presbyterian provided excellent and compassionate care, but Ebola is a disease that attacks the body in many ways," Lakey said. "We'll continue every effort to contain the spread of the virus and protect people from this threat."

Ten people were exposed to Duncan, and an additional 38 may have been, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Daily follow-up examinations of all 48 contacts will continue for 21 days after their exposure - the maximum incubation period for the disease.

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