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Ill Deputy Who Visited Dallas Ebola Patient's Apartment Taken To Hospital

[We will update this story throughout the day.]  Thomas Duncan, the Dallas Ebola patient, died shortly before 8 a.m. Meanwhile, a patient has been sent to Texas Health Presbyterian after falling ill and reporting possible Ebola exposure.

Hear tonight’s special report from the KERA newsroom.

3:30 p.m. Frisco officials discuss patient who's in hospital after reporting possible Ebola exposure

Emergency responders in Frisco say a patient "exhibiting signs and symptoms" of Ebola claims to have had contact with the man diagnosed with the disease in Dallas. But state health officials say there is no indication the person had any direct contact with Thomas Eric Duncan.

The city of Frisco says dispatchers received a call from an urgent care facility Wednesday regarding the patient. The release says "the patient claims to have had contact with the Dallas 'patient zero."'

Public health officials are monitoring 48 people confirmed to have had varying degrees of contact with Duncan.

Texas state health officials say the person in Frisco wasn't among those being monitored and added that none of the people being monitored have reported any symptoms of Ebola.

Frisco officials held a press conference this afternoon to outline the situation.

At 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Frisco fire officials responded to the urgent care facility about a patient who was feeling ill who was possibly exposed to the Ebola virus.

The patient, a Dallas County sheriff's deputy, told Frisco officials that he had been in the Northeast Dallas apartment with relatives of Thomas Duncan, the man who was staying there and was diagnosed with Ebola. Duncan died Wednesday morning. The relatives on Friday were moved to a home and are under isolation. 

The patient was transported from Frisco to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

The man didn’t show all symptoms that a patient with Ebola exhibits. He’s considered a “lower-level” risk, said Mark Piland, the Frisco fire chief.

“We are being told the risk is minimal,” Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said, adding that officials were acting on an “abundance of caution.” 

3:12 p.m. New patient admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian after reporting possible Ebola exposure

Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas passes along news that a new patient has just been admitted to its emergency room due to possible exposure to the Ebola virus. The statement says: "Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas can confirm today that a patient has been admitted to the Emergency Room after reporting possible exposure to the Ebola virus. Right now, there are more questions than answers about this case. Our professional staff of nurses and doctors is prepared to examine the patient, discuss any findings with appropriate agencies and officials.  We are on alert with precautions and systems in place. At the same time, we are caring for routine cases which are completely separate in operations."

KXAS-TV spoke with Sgt. Chris Dyer, president of the Dallas Sheriffs Association, who confirms that the patient sent to Presbyterian is a deputy who was part of the Duncan investigation.

Dyer says the deputy is not exhibiting “classic Ebola symptoms” and that he “just didn’t feel well.”

3:07 p.m.: Duncan's fiancee reacted with "great shock and despair" when she learned he had died

The pastor of the church attended by the woman who hosted Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan says she reacted with "great shock and despair" when she learned Wednesday of Duncan's death.

Wilshire Baptist Church pastor George Mason says he and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins notified Louise Troh of Duncan's death.

Mason says three boys staying with Troh at an isolated location are worried they, too, will become sick because they were exposed to Duncan when he stayed with the family prior to being hospitalized.

He says Troh has questions about Duncan's care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, but added she's "not seeking to create any kind of division in our community.”

Mason and Jenkins maintained a distance from Troh and the boys during the visit out of caution.

3 p.m.: CDC holds press conference with Ebola update

Here's a livestream from PBS:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

2:54 p.m. Ebola victim's remains to be cremated

Texas health officials say the remains of the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States will be cremated.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said in a news release that Thomas Eric Duncan will be cremated so his remains can be returned to the family. When or where the cremation would occur was unclear.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the remains of Ebola victims remain contagious - but the cremation process will kill the virus.

Duncan, a Liberian native, died Wednesday morning at a hospital in Dallas. The 42-year-old came to Texas in late September, but did not display obvious signs of having the virus when he entered the U.S.

2:39 p.m. Vigil to be held tonight

A prayer vigil will be held tonight at 7:30 at Wilshire Baptist Church in East Dallas, where Louise Troh is a member. She had plans to marry Thomas Duncan, the Dallas Ebola patient who died this morning.

1:51 p.m.: In Vickery Meadow, a mixture of sadness and concern

KERA’s Stella Chavez is in Vickery Meadow this afternoon -- that’s the immigrant-rich neighborhood in northeast Dallas where Duncan had been staying with relatives before getting sick.

AtArifCafé, an Ethiopian restaurant, people were picking up food and hanging out inside. People were glued to the TVs, which were tuned into CNN. People were sad to hear that Duncan had died. While Duncan is the only person to contract Ebola who’s in Dallas, some are worried about Ebola spreading across the city. Others said that hospital and health workers need to work hard to contain Ebola. One individual said that airplane flights to and from Africa should be stopped for now to help keep Ebola from spreading.

1:38 p.m. Vickery Meadow fund established

A fund has been established for Vickery Meadow, the Dallas neighborhood affected by the Ebola virus. Thomas Duncan, the Dallas Ebola patient, was staying with relatives in an apartment in Vickery Meadow. 

The Dallas Foundation sends along this note:

“The backlash from this attention has had negative consequences for a neighborhood already plagued by poverty, affecting residents' ability to work as well as the delivery of volunteer services within the community.  In response, The Vickery Meadow Assistance Fund has been established at The Dallas Foundation to support nonprofit agencies assisting families in this neighborhood.”

To donate to the Vickery Meadow Assistance Fund, click here.

12:25 p.m. Texas Health Presbyterian won't be holding a press conference today

Texas Health Presbyterian just passed along this statement to the media: "At this time, out of respect for a grieving family, we have decided not to hold a news conference. We will release more information later today."

12:10 p.m.: Duncan's fiancee releases statement: "His suffering is over"

After Texas Health Presbyterian notified officials that Duncan had died, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins went to visit Duncan's fiancee, Louise Troh, to share the sad news. Joining Jenkins was Troh's pastor, George Mason.

Troh released a statement about his death.

“I trust a thorough examination will take place regarding all aspects of his care,” Troh wrote. “I am now dealing with the sorrow and anger that his son was not able to see him before he died. This will take some time, but in the end, I believe in a merciful God.”

She asked people to keep her family in their prayers.

“His suffering is over,” she said. “My family is in deep sadness and grief, but we leave him in the hands of God. Our deepest sympathies go out to his father and family in Liberia and here in America. Eric was a wonderful man who showed compassion toward all. … This has dramatically changed our lives, and we will be grieving for a long time.”

Troh also thanked the Dallas community, her church and Liberian community. She also thanked Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings; Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; and her pastor, George Mason at Wilshire Baptist Church in East Dallas.

She thanked them and others for the love and support “they have shown me and my family during this ordeal.”

“Without their help, I can’t imagine how we could have endured,” she said.

Duncan left Liberia and made plans to reunite and marry Troh in Dallas, Mason told KERA over the weekend.

“This has been in the works for several months -- this was not an immediate decision of his to come to the States,” Mason told KERA. “He had been waiting for a visa and it came through. Of course, he became symptomatic before we could make a plan for the wedding.”

Mason says Troh was looking forward to starting a life with Duncan, after reconciling with him following a separation.

“These are people with hopes and dreams,” he said. “Relationships of all kinds have been put on hold now as their life is hanging in the balance.”

On Sunday, Wilshire church members gathered to pray for Duncan and Troh and others affected by Ebola -- read more about that here.

12:05 p.m.: CDC issues guidelines on how to handle dead Ebola patients

What happens to the remains of Thomas Duncan, the Dallas Ebola patient?

The hospital has directed questions to the Texas Department of State Health Services about how Duncan’s remains will be handled. The state health department has yet to respond to an email requesting details.

But the Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines.

The CDC says the Ebola virus can be transmitted in “postmortem care settings” by laceration and puncture with contaminated instruments; through direct handling of human remains without appropriate protective equipment; and through splashes of blood or other bodily fluids, such as urine, saliva and feces to a person’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Among the CDC guidelines:

  • Only personnel trained in handling infected human remains, and wearing personal protective equipment, should touch, or move, any Ebola-infected remains.
  • Handling of human remains should be kept to a minimum.
  • Autopsies on patients who die of Ebola should be avoidied. If an autopsy is necessary, the state health department and CDC should be consulted regarding additional precautions.

Postmortem preparation

  • At the site of death, the body should be wrapped in a plastic shroud. Wrapping of the body should be done in a way that prevents contamination of the outside of the shroud. Change your gown or gloves if they become heavily contaminated with blood or body fluids. Leave any intravenous lines or endotracheal tubes that may be present in place. Avoid washing or cleaning the body. After wrapping, the body should be immediately placed in a leak-proof plastic bag not less than 150 μm thick and zippered closed The bagged body should then be placed in another leak-proof plastic bag not less than 150 μm thick and zippered closed before being transported to the morgue.
  • Prior to transport to the morgue, perform surface decontamination of the corpse-containing body bags by removing visible soil on outer bag surfaces with EPA-registered disinfectants which can kill a wide range of viruses. Follow the product’s label instructions. the visible soil has been removed, reapply the disinfectant to the entire bag surface and allow to air dry. Following the removal of the body, the patient room should be cleaned and disinfected.

10:52 a.m.: Condolences from the Dallas County medical director

Zachary Thompson, the medical director at Dallas County Health & Human Services, offered his condolences to Duncan's family. 

"It’s been a tough week and a half and so we want to right now just pause and think of Mr. Duncan and his family at this moment," he said. "And again, our hearts and prayers go out to them."

That does not mean the public health team is standing down. They're still working with potential contacts of Duncan.

“We’ll continue in our investigation," he said. "None of the patients that we’re following have shown any symptoms.”

The Ebola situation was uncharted territory for state and local health officials, but Thompson vowed to learn from the experience and says there were no missteps on their part.

“We will learn from this experience and we will improve our overall system from this experience. But I will stand by that there were no missteps and everyone was clearly focused once it was identified that we had a positive case.” 

The Dallas school district and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings have also released statements on Duncan's death. 

From Mayor Rawlings: 

“We are deeply saddened to learn that Mr. Thomas Duncan has passed away. We appreciate the dedicated service of the emergency and medical personnel who worked diligently to care for him. On behalf of the city of Dallas, I extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Duncan. I remain confident in the abilities of our health care professionals and the medical advances here in the U.S. and reassure you we will stop the Ebola virus in its tracks from spreading into our community. I want to reinforce to the public, that this was an isolated incident of the Ebola virus; contracted by the individual while residing in another country. This is sad news for all involved.  We will continue to work in partnership with Dallas County to do everything possible to protect our public health and all of the City of Dallas.”

From the Dallas Independent School District: 

"We are saddened to learn of Mr. Thomas Duncan’s passing and extend our sympathy to his family and loved ones. Today our thoughts are with our students who knew Mr. Duncan. The district will make available counseling services to students and staff most affected. We understand Mr. Duncan’s passing may cause additional questions surrounding the Ebola virus. The district has posted a number of online resources on its Health Updates page that families may find helpful regarding the virus." 

Five students from Dallas schools are being monitored for Ebola symptoms after it was revealed last week they may have had contact with Duncan. The district also updated on their conditions.

"To date, the five students who possibly had contact with Mr. Duncan still do not show any signs or symptoms of the virus and therefore are not contagious. They continue to be served through the district’s homebound program during the 21-day observation period." 

Original post: The hospital said in a statement: "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. Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola. He fought courageously in this battle. Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time."

Duncan was brought to the hospital via ambulance on Sept. 28, where he had been in isolation.

Duncan left Liberia on Sept. 19, arriving in Dallas on Sept. 20. He was reuniting with his girlfriend, Louise Troh, in Dallas. They planned to get married. On Sept. 24, Duncan started to get sick and show symptoms, including fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain. On Sept. 26, he went to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan told a nurse he had come from Liberia. But the hospital sent him home with antibiotics.

Duncan returned to the hospital on Sept. 28, this time via ambulance. 

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who had met with Duncan's relatives, released a statement about Duncan's death.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of Thomas Eric Duncan at this time, especially his fiancée Louise, their son Karsiah and all those who loved him," Jenkins said in the statement. "We are also thinking of the dedicated hospital staff who assisted Mr. Duncan daily while he fought this terrible disease.  We offer prayers of comfort and peace to everyone impacted by his passing.”

Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of Texas Department of State Health Services who has been one of the officials investigating Ebola in Dallas, offered this statement:  “The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal. Today they lost a dear member of their family. They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts. The doctors, nurses and staff at Presbyterian provided excellent and compassionate care, but Ebola is a disease that attacks the body in many ways. We’ll continue every effort to contain the spread of the virus and protect people from this threat.”

On Tuesday night, Karsiah "Eric" Duncan, Thomas Duncan's son, talked with the media about what his family has been going through.

“Be strong even though it’s hard being in the house for 21 days, not knowing what’s going to happen after she gets out," he said. "I hope y’all keep praying that my family’s OK, and that my dad will make it out safely.” 

We'll continue to update this post throughout the day. 

Here's a timeline of events leading up to Duncan's death: 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.