The first person on American soil diagnosed with the lethal Ebola virus, 42-year-old Thomas Eric Duncan, died Wednesday just before the Jewish Sukkot holiday, according to NBC News.
Duncan, a Liberian national who was diagnosed just days after arriving in Texas from Liberia, succumbed after nearly two weeks of battling the virus in an isolation room in a Dallas hospital. He had been treated with the experimental medication brincidofovir. The same medication is now being used to treat American journalist Ashoka Mukpo, who was airlifted from Liberia to a hospital to Nebraska on Monday.
Since the outbreak began in West Africa in March, more than 3,400 people have died from the Ebola virus out of nearly 7,500 confirmed, probable and suspected cases.
The U.S. has announced plans to begin screening air passengers arriving from affected countries sometime this weekend.
In Israel, meanwhile, health care officials are gearing up to deal with the strong possibility that Ebola may arrive in the Jewish State.
Israel is noting the progression of the disease across the continents as it moves closer to the Middle East.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gathered top ministers in his Jerusalem office just prior to the start of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot to review Israel’s readiness for the Ebola virus.
Health Minister Yael German, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz, Deputy Interior Minister Fania Kirsenbaum, and representatives from Israel Police, the Airports Authority and the Foreign Ministry participated in the discussion.
Officials from the health ministry presented information on the current global situation regarding the spread and transmission of the virus.
The greatest concern about the spread of the disease was focused on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the communique from the prime minister’s office. Government officials resolved to identify people entering the country from those nations, where the virus is the most prevalent. The foreign and health ministries are both advising Israelis to avoid travel to those areas as well.
Three mobile clinics have been dispatched by Israel to affected areas in western Africa to help combat the illness, the committee said.
Also this week, a Spanish nurse who became the first person to contract the virus outside of West Africa was admitted to hospital, according to a report by the BBC. Teresa Romero was part of a team of 30 staff caring for two missionaries who later died from the virus after returning from West Africa. Romero told the El Pais newspaper she believed she may have contracted the disease while removing her protective suit after cleaning one of the missionaries’ rooms.
Two doctors who treated her have also been admitted to the hospital for observation; so far, neither has shown any symptoms of Ebola, a spokesperson for the Carlos III Medical Center confirmed.
Romero’s brother was quoted as saying her health has worsened and she is now being helped with her breathing.
A Spanish court order to euthanize the nurse’s dog was issued Tuesday even though it was not clear whether the animal was infected or even bore any risk of carrying the disease. Protesters quickly gathered outside Romero’s home after animal rights groups were alerted by her husband, who is also being kept in isolation in a hospital as a precaution; they tried to stop the government van that came to remove the dog from her home.
In other parts of the world, Australia has also reported its first case of the disease this week, and a Turkish worker has been hospitalized with a suspected case in Istanbul as well.
Health officials in Germany have confirmed a third Ebola patient who arrived in the country after having contracted the illness in Liberia.