Known as patient zero, Thomas Eric Duncan is a Liberian who is believed to have contacted the Ebola virus in Africa. Duncan began to show symptoms a few days after traveling to the United States and has been in isolation at a Dallas hospital since Sunday. Health officials are now working to contain the illness. CCTV America’s Jim Spellman reports.
Health authorities were tracking about 100 people that Duncan came in contact with while he was contagious with the Ebola virus. A woman that Duncan was staying with and three family members were now quarantined in the same apartment where Duncan spent four days sick with the virus. Authorities were scrambling to clean the apartment and remove items such as bed sheets that Duncan slept on.
Officials were also conducting ‘contact tracing’ to monitor everyone that Duncan interacted with, either closely or casually, while he was sick. The group included five children who were being kept home from school and the ambulance crew that took Duncan to the hospital. None of them has shown Ebola symptoms so far.
Fears have grown in Dallas communities, as has criticism to the response in the first confirmed U.S. Ebola case. Duncan was released from the hospital after initially presenting with Ebola symptoms and informing hospital personnel he had recently been in Liberia. This added days of potential exposure to those he contacted. Authorities said they can contain the situation but admit the response has revealed gaps in the American public health system.
For more on the Ebola epidemic, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar talked with George Mason University professor Kathryn Jacobsen, a health expert, who has conducted field research in Sierra Leone.