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Ebola Patient's Relatives Ordered To Stay In Their Apartment

Bill Zeeble
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins discussed the combined city, county and federal efforts required in dealing with the Ebola investigation. Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles listened on.

Health officials today zeroed in on the Vickery Meadow apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan had been staying while he visited relatives. Those family members were ordered by the state to stay in that apartment so health officials can monitor them.

A Dallas County Sheriff officer is stationed outside the apartment.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the move to confine the four relatives to their apartment wasn’t easy. But after consulting with state and federal health officials and Governor Rick Perry, everyone agreed it was the right decision. 

“They were non-compliant with the request to stay home. We do not intend to have to do that again,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says health officials need to monitor the residents, taking their temperature twice a day, to see if they start showing Ebola symptoms.

“If they’re not at home when we go out to do our surveillance test on them, that defeats the purpose of the test," Jenkins said. "That endangers them. If they were to be infected, they would need to know that as quickly as possible.”

On Thursday, the family wasn’t showing any symptoms. Jenkins said in a separate press conference with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that their apartment needs cleaning.

“There is a garbage bag of the man’s clothes and belongings. They have got a bag of household trash,” Jenkins said. “And they have mattresses pushed against the wall. I believe the household trash would consist of the sheets he slept on. We want to ensure they’re getting regular food and the house is cleaned.”

The cleaning was expected to happen Thursday.

There were questions about moving the tenants to a cleaner or sterile environment. Dave Daigle, with the CDC, said there’s no need yet.  

“Without  symptoms, they’re not a danger right now," Daigle said.

The four family members in the apartment  had the closest direct contact with Duncan while he was in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood. Health officials spent the day winnowing down as many as 100 possible people who had been in contact with him, trying to make sure Ebola doesn’t spread. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.