Following the passing of the first person in the United States from Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Liberian traveler, Thomas Eric Duncan today, both Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Texas Health Commissioner Dr. David Lakey expressed their condolences and praised the work of the medical professionals at Texas Presbyterian.
Mayor Rawlings said, “We are deeply saddened to learn that Mr. Thomas Duncan has passed away. We appreciate the dedicated service of the emergency and medical personnel who worked diligently to care for him. On behalf of the city of Dallas, I extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Duncan. I remain confident in the abilities of our health care professionals and the medical advances here in the U.S. and reassure you we will stop the Ebola virus in its tracks from spreading into our community.
“I want to reinforce to the public, that this was an isolated incident of the Ebola virus; contracted by the individual while residing in another country. This is sad news for all involved. We will continue to work in partnership with Dallas County, the State, and CDC to do everything possible to protect our public health and all of the City of Dallas.”
Dr. David Lackey said, “The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal. Today they lost a dear member of their family. They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts. The doctors, nurses and staff at Presbyterian provided excellent and compassionate care, but Ebola is a disease that attacks the body in many ways. We’ll continue every effort to contain the spread of the virus and protect people from this threat.”
In addition, Texas health officials explained that the body of Mr. Duncan would be handled following strict guidelines outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The guidelines recommend careful preparation of the body before movement, including enclosing it in two bags and disinfecting the bags. After this process, the body can be transported without the need for protective gear for a driver or others who are near the body but don’t handle the remains.
After that careful preparation, the body will be cremated. CDC guidelines say remains infected with Ebola can be cremated or “buried promptly in a hermetically sealed casket.” Dr. Lakey offered his personal condolences to the family and explained the reasons why the state recommended cremation. The family agreed.
Finally, a sheriff’s deputy who went into the apartment where the first U.S. Ebola patient had stayed has been hospitalized after getting sick. The hospitalization is “out of an abundance of caution”.
“The deputy expressed concern and we directed that deputy to the Dallas County Health & Human Services for care. We now wait for further information as medical staff attends to the deputy”, the sheriff’s department said in a statement. Confirmatory testing for the virus could take up to 48 hours.