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Major Ebola alert as first US victim dies in isolation

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Commissioner: Dr David Lakey

Commissioner: Dr David Lakey

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Commissioner: Dr David Lakey

The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States died yesterday, little more than a week after his illness exposed gaps in the nation's defences against the disease.

The death of Thomas Eric Duncan also set off a scramble to track down anyone exposed to him.

Mr Duncan (42) was pronounced dead at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where he had been kept in isolation since September 28.

"Mr Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease," hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said.

Mr Duncan carried the deadly virus with him from his home in Liberia, though he showed no symptoms when he left for the US. He arrived in Dallas on September 20 and fell ill several days later. His condition worsened during the weekend from serious to critical.

Other people in Dallas are still being monitored as health officials try to contain the virus that has ravaged west Africa, with more than 3,400 people reported dead. They also are trying to reduce down anxiety among residents frightened of contracting Ebola, though the disease can be spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an already sick person.

Health officials have identified 10 people, including seven health workers, who had direct contact with Mr Duncan while he was contagious. Another 38 people also may have come into contact with him. The four people living in the Dallas apartment where Mr Duncan stayed were moved to another home and are in isolation.

"The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal... They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts," Dr David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said. "We'll continue every effort to contain the spread of the virus and protect people from this threat."

Belfast Telegraph