Thomas Eric Duncan, the 42-year-old Liberian citizen identified as the first person to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus on American soil, was vomiting upon arriving at the Texas hospital that initially let him go with antibiotics, according to a CNN report.
In a move that CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta described as inexcusable, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital initially let Duncan go with antibiotics, noting that he did not have any symptoms that were unique to Ebola and, as such, they chose to release him.
The mistake appears increasingly outrageous when all evidence indicates that Duncan was honest about being from Monrovia, Liberia, one of the major centers of the Ebola outbreak, and that his appearance in the hospital necessarily means he himself identified symptoms of a serious illness within himself. The hospital has claimed that Duncan’s admission of having been in Liberia recently was not “fully communicated” to the staff responsible for deciding whether to admit a patient.
CNN notes, however, that his symptoms were not only clearly indicative of a grave problem, but that they were precisely the sort of symptoms that make an Ebola patient contagious. Duncan, according to a friend, arrived at the hospital suffering from a fever and vomiting, but the hospital designated symptom instead as “abdominal pain”:
His friend said that Duncan had a fever and vomiting during this first visit to the Dallas hospital. The hospital, in a statement Wednesday, said he had a “low grade fever and abdominal pain.” […]
Ebola is exclusively contagious, to the best knowledge of medical experts, to those exposed to the bodily fluids of an Ebola patient, whether sweat, blood, or vomit. The difference between vomiting and “abdominal pain” in the difference between exposing up to 100 people in the Texas area to the Ebola virus.
Contacts in Liberia have relayed to the New York Times that Duncan appears to have contracted the virus through contact with a pregnant woman in Monrovia. The woman, 19-year-old Marthalene Williams, was convulsing by the time Duncan helped her family carry her to a taxi to take her to the hospital, where she was rejected due to lack of space. Duncan helped the family bring her home, where she died some hours later. That was on September 19, reports the newspaper.
Reports indicate that Duncan remains in serious condition, but appears conscious and have requested food, according to Dr. Gupta.