Ebola Patient Thomas Eric Duncan Fell Ill After Helping Woman: Report

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The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States may have contracted the virus in Liberia while taking a deathly ill neighbor to the hospital in a taxi. Four days before he flew to Dallas to visit family members, cargo driver Thomas Eric Duncan helped his landlords take their 19-year-old daughter, Marthalene Williams, to a clinic that was so crowded with Ebola patients that it turned her away, The New York Times reported. The family, which had tried and failed to get an ambulance, took the convulsing woman back home, where she died hours later. "He was holding her by the legs," a neighbor told the newspaper.

Williams' brother, who was also in the taxi, started getting symptoms a week ago and quickly died, the family told the Times. Three other women from the same area also got sick at the same time. By then, Duncan was already gone from Liberia.

After quitting his job on Sept. 4, Duncan left Monrovia on a Sept. 19 flight and arrived in the U.S. the next day. He started showing symptoms Sept. 24 and went to a Dallas hospital for treatment Sept. 26. He was sent home, only to be brought back by ambulance on Sept. 28 and diagnosed with the deadly virus.

The critically ill man had come into contact with up to 18 people, including "some school-age children," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday. "The children have been identified and they are being monitored." Five students at four different schools — two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school — had contact with the patient over the weekend, officials said.


— Tracy Connor