DALLAS (Reuters) – Hospitals in Dallas have set up Ebola isolation wards and revamped procedures to deal with new patients, as the sprawling Texas city waits to see if the deadly virus spreads following the first case diagnosed on US soil.
Some 48 people are being monitored by health officials in Dallas after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian visiting family in Dallas, came down with the disease in late September. He died early on Wednesday, hospital officials said.
Ebola’s incubation period can last as long as three weeks, but victims typically start showing symptoms within 10-14 days, making this week crucial, according to state officials.
Children’s Medical Center said it has set up an isolation unit for possible Ebola cases in part because five of the people that are being monitored after they were exposed to Duncan were children.
“We sincerely hope these preparations are nothing more than a drill,” the hospital said in an e-mailed statement.
Parkland Memorial Hospital and Baylor University Hospital, both in Dallas, also said they have isolation wards available to treat Ebola patients, and have geared up screening procedures and staff training.
Duncan’s case has put a spotlight on US efforts to combat Ebola, which has killed nearly 4,000 people in West Africa since March in the worst outbreak on record.