DALLAS (TheBlaze/AP) — The lone U.S. Ebola patient is in critical condition, according to the Dallas hospital treating him.
Saturday's six-word news release about Thomas Duncan read, "Mr. Duncan is in critical condition."
This 2011 photo provided by Wilmot Chayee shows Thomas Eric Duncan at a wedding in Ghana. (Image source: AP/Wilmot Chayee)
The spokeswoman for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital 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 traveled 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.
Health officials said Saturday they are monitoring about 50 people for signs of the deadly disease who may have had contact with Duncan, including nine who are believed to be at a higher risk. Thus far none have shown symptoms. Among those being monitored are people who rode in the ambulance that transported Duncan back to the hospital before his diagnosis, said Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Friday, a hazardous-materials crew decontaminated the Dallas apartment where Duncan was staying when he got sick during his visit. The materials were sealed in industrial barrels that were to be stored in trucks until they can be hauled away for permanent disposal.
The family who lived there was moved to a private home in a gated community, where they are being carefully monitored. The city had been having trouble finding a place that would take in Louise Troh, originally from Liberia, her 13-year-old son and two nephews.
Duncan arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 and fell ill a few days later. After an initial visit to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, he was sent home, even though he told a nurse he had been in disease-ravaged West Africa. He returned to the hospital two days later, last Sunday, and has been kept in isolation ever since.
The hospital issued a news release late Friday saying that the doctor who initially treated Duncan did have access to his travel history, after all. It had said Thursday that a flaw in the electronic health records systems led to separate physician and nursing workflows, and that the doctor hadn't had access to Duncan's travel history.
A woman claiming to be Duncan's stepdaughter has made some alarming assertions. Youngor Jallah claimed she learned Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola virus on the news, telling CNN that no official with the CDC or other agency informed her.
“No one is giving me no instructions and no one is telling me nothing,” she told CNN, later admitting she's “scared” of contracting the virus since she had close contact with Duncan and called 911 when he became feverish and sweaty.
Liberian authorities said Thursday that Duncan will be prosecuted when he returns home for lying on his airport screening questionnaire. The Associated Press reported he answered “no” to questions about whether he had cared for an Ebola patient or touched the body of someone who had died in an area affected by Ebola.
The first Ebola diagnosis in the U.S. has raised concerns about whether the disease that has killed 3,400 people in West Africa could spread in the U.S. But federal health officials said they are confident they can keep it in check.
The virus that causes Ebola is not airborne and can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids — blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen — of an infected person who is showing symptoms.
The following report preceded Duncan's critical-condition announcement:
This story has been updated.