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First person diagnosed with Ebola in US dies in Texas hospital

A Liberian man who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States died in a Texas hospital today, his case having put health authorities on alert for the deadly virus spreading outside of West Africa.

About 48 people who had direct or indirect contact with the man since he arrived in the United States from Liberia on Sept. 20 are being monitored, but none have yet shown any symptoms, according to health officials.

"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," Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas spokesman Wendell Watson said in an emailed statement.

Duncan's case has led to expanded efforts by U.S. authorities to combat the spread of Ebola at its source in West Africa and raised questions about the effectiveness of airport screening and hospital preparedness.

Duncan became ill after arriving in Dallas to visit family. He went to the Dallas hospital on Sept. 25, but was initially sent home with antibiotics. His condition worsened, he returned Sept. 28 by ambulance and was diagnosed with Ebola, which has killed more than 3,400 people in the worst-hit impoverished countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

"I am in tears. All of us are in tears," Wilfred Smallwood, Duncan's half brother, said from his home in Phoenix, Arizona.

The current Ebola outbreak began in March and has killed nearly half of those infected, according to the World Health Organization. Ebola can take as long as three weeks before its victims show symptoms, at which point the disease becomes contagious. Ebola, which can cause fever, vomiting and diarrhea, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva.

While several American patients have been flown to the United States from West Africa for treatment, Duncan was the first person to start showing symptoms on US soil.

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Tags:  Liberia  Ebola  virus  US  Spain  outbreak  health  





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