DALLAS — Thomas Eric Duncan is the man being treated at a Dallas, Texas, hospital for Ebola, his half-brother, Wilfred Smallwood, told CNN. Duncan is the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.
After the man’s diagnosis, the Obama administration is recirculating its guidance about how to respond to the virus, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.
“In light of this incident,” Earnest said, “the administration has taken the step of recirculating our guidance to law enforcement agencies that are responsible for securing the border, to those agencies that represent individuals who staff the airline industry and to medical professionals all across the country, to make sure people are aware there is an important protocol that should be implemented if an individual presents with symptoms that are consistent with Ebola.”
Authorities said Duncan flew part of his trip on United Airlines. The airline believes the patient flew from Brussels to Washington Dulles and then from Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth on September 20.
The Texas hospital treating Duncan said there was no reason to admit him when he first came to the hospital last Thursday night.
“At that time, the patient presented with low-grade fever and abdominal pain. His condition did not warrant admission. He also was not exhibiting symptoms specific to Ebola,” Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said in a statement Wednesday. “The patient returned via ambulance on Sunday, September 28, at which time EMS had already identified potential need for isolation. The hospital followed all suggested CDC protocols at that time. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas’ staff is thoroughly trained in infection control procedures and protocols.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said some school-age children had been in contact with Duncan.
Five students at four different schools have come into contact with the Ebola patient, Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles added, but none has exhibited symptoms. The children are being monitored at home, and the schools remain open, Miles said. Between 12 and 18 people have been identified as coming into contact with the patient, officials added.
Concern about the possible spread of the killer virus comes less than a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that, for the first time, a person with Ebola was diagnosed on American soil.
How that case was handled has sparked many serious questions.
The patient, a man, walked into an emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on September 26. A nurse asked him for his travel history while he was in the emergency room, and the patient said he had traveled to Africa, said Dr. Mark Lester, executive vice president of Texas Health Resources.
But that information was not “fully communicated” to the medical team, Lester said.
The man, who had just flown from Liberia to the United States, underwent basic blood tests, but not an Ebola screening, and was sent home with antibiotics, said Dr. Edward Goodman with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Two days later, on September 28, the man returned to the facility, where it was determined that he probably had Ebola. He was then isolated. He tested positive for the virus Tuesday, health officials said.
The CDC, which has helped lead the international response to Ebola, advises that all medical facilities should ask patients with symptoms consistent with Ebola for their travel history.