The lone U.S. Ebola patient is in critical condition, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital announced Saturday afternoon. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, has been isolated since he arrived at the hospital last weekend.
The hospital didn't provide any further details about his condition. The hospital previously said that Duncan’s condition was serious but stable.
Duncan traveled from disease-ravaged Liberia to Dallas last month before he began showing symptoms of the disease.
Health officials said Saturday that they are monitoring about 50 people for signs of the deadly disease who may have had contact with Duncan, including nine who are believed to be at a higher risk. Thus far none have shown symptoms.
On Friday, a hazardous-materials crew decontaminated the Vickery Meadow apartment where Duncan was staying when he got sick during his visit. The materials were sealed in industrial barrels that were to be stored in trucks until they can be hauled away for permanent disposal.
The family who lived there was moved to a private home in a gated community, where they are being carefully monitored. The city had been having trouble finding a place that would take in Louise Troh, originally from Liberia, her 13-year-old son and two nephews.
Before the hazardous-materials crew arrived, high-ranking Dallas County officials had been seen entering the apartment in recent days without wearing any protective gear. The county released a statement explaining why officials weren’t wearing protective gear:
“Those that were not wearing protective gear were not doing clean-up or moving the potentially infectious materials. Those that are doing clean-up are following CDC guidelines. According to the CDC, it is important to note that Ebola virus only lives in the environment for a few hours. Although Ebola is a vicious virus in the body, it is a wimpy virus in the environment. Even in studies in Ebola treatment units in Africa, we have not been able to find live virus.”
The statement continued: “Ebola is known as an enveloped virus. Whatever breaks that envelope will kill the virus. It is not like norovirus, which can live in the environment for many days. Although there is not a disinfectant with a label claim that can kill Ebola virus, any EPA-approved disinfectant that can kill norovirus can kill Ebola virus. Ebola is not a virus that you are going to get off of a surface, such as a door knob, table, etc. Ebola virus is only spread by contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.”