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First Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S. dies from virus

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(Bloomberg) — Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died from the virus while in isolation at a Dallas hospital. Duncan was diagnosed with the disease on Sept. 30 after contracting it in West Africa, where Ebola has infected about 7,500 people, killing half. He had come to the country to marry his girlfriend, Louise Troh, who is now being quarantined and has not yet shown symptoms of the disease.

“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 said in a statement today.

Duncan, who traveled to the U.S. from Liberia, developed a fever and stomach pains on Sept. 24, four days after arriving in the U.S. He was sent home from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency room on Sept. 26, after doctors failed to diagnose him with Ebola. He was brought back to the hospital in an ambulance two days later.

Duncan was in serious condition until Saturday, when his kidneys failed and he was put on dialysis. That afternoon he received the experimental drug brincidofovor, made by Durham, North Carolina-based Chimerix Inc, according to statements from the hospital, which has declined to say if the patient received any other experimental treatment.

Duncan was also receiving oxygen on a ventilator and medication to stave off infection, according to the hospital.

Nephew’s comments

A nephew, Josephus Weeks, said earlier today that Duncan did not receive any serum from Ebola survivors, a treatment given other survivors. Kent Brantly, a U.S. doctor who recovered after being infected, has donated serum to at least two other patients.

Asked in a text-message interview if the family thinks blood serum derived from disease survivors should have been used, Weeks said, “We begged and pleaded several times. They said it’s too late in his treatment. They didn’t try any other options but saline, oxygen and water.”

A hospital spokeswoman, Candace White, did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.

At least six patients have been or are currently being treated in the U.S. for Ebola.

American aid workers Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol, and Rick Sacra were treated and discharged. Brantly and Writebol received ZMapp, an antibody cocktail by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which has since run out.

Sacra received a drug made by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo is currently being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and has received Chimerix’s drug. There is also an unidentified patient at Emory University Hospital.

Shares of Chimerix dropped as much as 11 percent after the news of Duncan’s death. Joseph Schepers, a spokesman for Chimerix, declined to comment when reached by telephone.

See also:

Ebola toolbox: Quarantine benefits

Ebola marketing: 5 medical evac programs 

Ebola: Limited threat or pandemic in the making?


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