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The first person to die of Ebola virus in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, will be cremated, Texas state health department officials said Thursday.
Duncan died Wednesday while being treated for the virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
“The remains have been transported for cremation. No additional detail about timing or location will be given at this time,” Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, told NBC News.
Doctors said he had been gravely ill and was undergoing dialysis for kidney failure. He’d been getting supportive care and also an experimental antiviral pill called brincidofovir.
Experts know the bodies of people who have just died of Ebola can be very dangerous to handle. A lack of care in handling remains in West Africa has helped the virus spread, with as many as a dozen or more people infected while preparing bodies for burial. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detailed guidelines for handling the bodies, and they include recommendations to either cremate or use a hermetically sealed casket.
Then the remains can safely be handled for a funeral.