Sat | Jan 19, 2019

American Ebola patient critical

Published:Monday | October 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM
In this photo provided by CBS News, the National Institute of Health's Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, speaks on CBS's 'Face the Nation' in Washington. Speaking on the Ebola virus, Fauci said it's perfectly normal to feel anxious about a disease that kills so fast and is ravaging parts of West Africa, but predicts there won't be an outbreak in the United States. AP

The Dallas hospital treating the lone American Ebola patient says he is in critical condition.

A spokeswoman for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas issued a six-word news release about Thomas Duncan on Saturday saying, "Mr Duncan is in critical condition."

She provided no further details about his condition. The hospital previously said Duncan was being kept in isolation and that his condition was serious but stable.

Duncan travelled from disease-ravaged Liberia to Dallas last month before showing symptoms of the disease. He was treated and released from the hospital before returning two days later in an ambulance and being diagnosed with Ebola.

After days of scrutiny about their treatment, a family that was living in the Texas apartment where Duncan was staying when he got sick was moved to a private residence in a gated community. Meanwhile, a hazardous-materials crew on Friday decontaminated the Dallas apartment, and public-health officials cut by half the number of people being monitored for symptoms of the deadly disease.

The decontamination team was to collect bed sheets, towels and a mattress used by the infected man before he was hospitalised, as well as a suitcase and other personal items belonging to him, officials said.

The materials were sealed in industrial barrels that were to be stored in trucks until they can be hauled away for permanent disposal.

Federal transportation and disease-control officials issued an emergency special permit on Friday to allow an Illinois-based company to haul away and dispose of the materials - not only from the apartment but also any from the hospital where Duncan is receiving treatment.

The first Ebola diagnosis in the United States (US) has raised concerns about whether the disease that has killed 3,400 people in West Africa could spread in the US. Federal health officials say they are confident they can keep it in check.

Under armed guard

Meanwhile, Duncan's family was confined to their home under armed guard while public-health officials monitored them - part of an intense effort to contain the deadly disease before it can get a foothold in the United States.

When the decontamination is complete, even the crew's protective suits are to be burned, said Tamara Smith, office manager for the Cleaning Guys of Fort Worth.

Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County's top administrative official, said he went to the apartment with two epidemiologists to apologise for the delay in removing the soiled items, which happened five days after Duncan was admitted to the hospital.

"I want to see this family treated the way I would want to see my own family treated," Jenkins said.

Jenkins, who said he had visited the family twice and drove them to their new residence, told reporters that when he asked one of the boys if there was anything he needed, the youth said, "A basketball?"

The confinement order, which also bans visitors, was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request to stay home.

Also, on Friday, Texas health officials said they had narrowed the number of people they were monitoring from as many as 100 to about 50 who had some type of exposure to Duncan.

The virus that causes Ebola is not airborne and can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids - blood, sweat, vomit, faeces, urine, saliva or semen - of an infected person who is showing symptoms.