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Dallas Patient Receiving Experimental Drug, Hospital Says

Thomas Duncan, the Ebola patient in Dallas, remains in critical condition, Texas Health Presbyterian announced Monday afternoon. His condition is stable, the hospital says. Duncan is receiving an an experimental drug, called brincidofovir, for Ebola.

Duncan started getting the drug at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, the hospital says.

Chimerix, a biopharmaceutical company developing antiviral medication, released a statement Monday saying that brincidofovir has been provided for potential use in Ebola patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted requests by doctors, the company says.

Chimerix says physicians sought federal permission to use company's drug, called brincidofovir, which is in late-stage testing for other types of viruses.

Last Tuesday, doctors in Dallas diagnosed Duncan with Ebola. He's the first U.S. case of Ebola. He had recently arrived from Liberia.

Brincidofovir is an oral antiviral drug being tested to fight more common viruses, including one that infects patients undergoing bone marrow transplants. Laboratory tests suggested it might also fight Ebola.

Two other experimental drugs developed specifically for Ebola have been used in American patients. None have been approved by the FDA.

Wondering how to pronounce brincidofovir?  It's brin-suh-doh-fuh-veer.

4:15 p.m. Monday: Obama says some foreign countries aren't doing enough to confront Ebola crisis in West Africa

President Barack Obama says some foreign countries are not doing enough to confront the Ebola crisis in West Africa. He says the international community has not been as aggressive as it needs to be to help contain what he's calling a top national security issue for the United States.

Obama says he intends to put pressure on other foreign heads of state to "make sure that they are doing everything that they can to join us in this effort."

He said the chances for an Ebola outbreak in the United States are low, but he says his administration is working on additional screening protocols for international airline passengers both in the U.S. and overseas.

Obama spoke on Monday after meeting with his national security team.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he's "very confident" the city's hospital system could handle an Ebola outbreak.

De Blasio touts the public health system in the nation's biggest city, the ability of its first responders and its ties to the leadership of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

De Blasio said Monday his city has a "much more aggressive and coherent game plan" than other U.S. cities to fight a potential Ebola case. He says anyone who suspects he or she has Ebola should call 911 or rush to the nearest emergency room.

Five Americans have returned to the U.S. from Africa for treatment since the start of the Ebola outbreak.

A New York man treated for Ebola-like symptoms in August didn't have the virus.

3:50 p.m. Monday: Homeless man who had possible contact with Ebola patient is under quarantine

A Dallas city spokeswoman says health officials concerned with the spread of Ebola are using a state order to keep a homeless man quarantined so that his health can be monitored.

Sana Syed said Monday the 52-year-old man is being held at an undisclosed location in Dallas.

Authorities have said he was transported in an ambulance Sept. 28 after it had been used to transport Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan to a Dallas hospital.

After the man was found over the weekend by authorities he was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Syed says he was transported Sunday from Parkland to the undisclosed location.

She says he's being quarantined under an order issued by Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey.

Syed says he'll be monitored until Oct. 18.

2:48 p.m. Monday: No one being monitored has shown symptoms of Ebola, officials say

Health officials continue to monitor about 50 people who may have come into contact with the Dallas Ebola patient – and none of them are showing symptoms of the deadly virus.

City leaders and state health officials offered an update Monday afternoon.

“One hundred percent were seen yesterday,” said Dr. David Lakey, the Texas health commissioner. “One hundred percent had no signs of fever. One hundred percent had no signs of illness. One hundred percent were doing well.”

Ten of those individuals are considered high-risk – seven of them are healthcare workers and three are relatives of Thomas Duncan, the patient with Ebola who’s being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

“We’re working really hard to make sure no other Texans are exposed to this virus,” Lakey said. “We have tried and true processes and protocols to stop spread of infectious disease.”

Those who might have been in contact with Duncan are being monitored for 21 days. This week is critical, city and state officials said.

"This is a very important week," Lakey told reporters. "We need to be prepared in Dallas. If one of the family members, God forbid, becomes ill, we need to be ready for it." 

Decontamination crews have completed their work at the apartment where Duncan was staying before he was transported to Texas Health Presbyterian on Sept. 28. Duncan’s personal items have been destroyed. Some personal items were saved. Crews were able to salvage a laptop, trophies, personal documents and a Bible that belonged to the grandmother of Duncan’s girlfriend, Louise Troh. 

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he was pleased that residents were out and about over the weekend and that Ebola wasn’t scaring folks way. Attendance was strong at both the State Fair of Texas and the Dallas Cowboys game in Arlington, Rawlings said.

Jennifer Staubach Gates, the Dallas City Council member whose district includes the apartment complex where Duncan was visiting, said she hopes to clear up misconceptions about the neighborhood and about Ebola.

Some people in the neighborhood feel they’re being discriminated against, Gates said. Some are being turned away from their jobs and from shops. Officials are getting them in touch with lawyers.

“It’s about you, the public, spreading the word about how this is spread and relieving the misconception and that this community is healthy,” Gates said.

1:05 p.m. Monday: Decontamination crew completes its work at Dallas apartment where Ebola patient stayed

A decontamination crew has completed its work at the Northeast Dallas apartment where an Ebola patient stayed prior to his hospitalization. The hazardous materials crew finished cleaning the unit at Ivy Apartments on Monday.

About 140 barrels were filled with items taken from the apartment, including bed sheets, towels and three mattresses used by Thomas Eric Duncan before he was hospitalized. Some of the barrels were hauled away Friday and others over the weekend.

Most everything taken from the apartment will be destroyed but some personal items were saved for the family of four living there. The family was moved by authorities to another location Friday.

Duncan, who traveled to Dallas from Liberia last month, had been staying in the apartment before being diagnosed.

11:45 a.m. Monday: Governor sets up infectious disease task force to combat Ebola, other deadly diseases

Gov. Rick Perry announced he has issued an executive order to set up a task force on infectious diseases to improve the state’s response to emerging infectious diseases in Texas.

The Texas Task Force On Disease Preparedness and Response will be made up of physicians, state agency leaders, and experts in infectious disease control and medical incident management.

“[The task force] will streamline our response effort, help us foresee issues before they arise, and to help local and state health officials move more quickly,” Perry said.

The governor praised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their work in Dallas, but called on Washington to implement screening procedures such as temperature checks at U.S. points of entry.

Texas A&M Health Sciences Center CEO Dr. Brett Grioir was appointed as the head of the task force. He said the group has already identified several areas the state can improve on, including hospital preparedness and decontamination waste disposal, and the care of people who are being monitored or quarantined.

"Recent events illustrate that we as a nation, as a state, and as individual counties can clearly do a better job," said state senator Charles Schwertner, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services committee. He's also on the new task force.

Dallas city and county officals will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. to update the public on the Ebola situation.

Original post: Five Dallas ISD schools get electronic fever scanners

Five Dallas schools will be receiving electronic scanners today to check for fevers. Dallas-based company Wello Inc. will be donating them to the district.

The schools had several students who had come into contact with Ebola patient Thomas Duncan. Those students are now at home, and have not shown any symptoms.

Dallas school district spokesman Andre Riley says the fever-screening monitors will be set up in school nursing stations and will screen any student who shows signs of illness. Unlike thermometers, the scanners will allow nurses to screen students for fevers without touching them, eliminating the risk of spreading disease.

Riley says the monitors will remain in those schools for the next few weeks. 

For developments that happened over the weekend, catch up on our Saturday and Sunday Ebola blogs.

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.
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.