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Thomas Duncan, Dallas’ Ebola Patient, Has Died

The total cost of fighting Ebola could push $32 billion

CDC director Tom Frieden during a press conference last week announcing Duncan's diagnosis with Ebola. (TAMI CHAPPELL/Reuters/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, has died, the Associated Press is reporting. Duncan's death brings a sad end to a medical struggle that, just yesterday, seemed to be starting to turn around.

On September 20th, Duncan flew into the United States from Liberia, a country that has so far seen 931 laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus, and thousands of suspected cases. A week later, Duncas was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas where he was diagnosed with Ebola, the first time the virus had ever been diagnosed in the U.S., said the CDC in a press conference last week.

Before his death this morning, things had been looking up for Duncan: his temperature and blood pressure had returned to normal levels, and the diarrhea associated with Ebola had waned, says the New York Times. A few days ago, Duncan had been put on an experimental broad-spectrum antiviral medication, says Time.

Before he was admitted to the hospital but while he was contagious, Duncan had been in contact with 48 people, says the Times. Those people are now under surveillance by the CDC. Duncan's family members are under mandated isolation, though as journalist David Dobbs noted last week, the family does not appear to be receiving the kind of support from health care officials that they might need.

Though Ebola is still overwhelmingly an issue for West African nations, it does appear to be spreading within western nations. In Spain, says the BBC, investigations are ongoing to figure out how a Spanish nurse contracted the disease—the first time the disease has ever been seen to spread outside of Africa.

If Ebola continues to spread—though a widespread outbreak of the disease in the West remains incredibly low—the total impact of the disease could push as high as $32.6 billion dollars by next year, according to a new estimate by the World Bank. CTV:

It is far from certain that the epidemic will be contained by the end of the year, so the report estimated the economic costs of two scenarios as the battle against the disease continues. The report estimated that the economic impact could top $9 billion if the disease is rapidly contained in the three most severely affected countries, but could reach $32.6 billion if it takes a long time to contain Ebola in the three countries and it spreads to neighboring nations.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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