Local News

First Ebola case in US has NC ties

Posted October 2, 2014

— The Liberian man being treated for Ebola at a Texas hospital has family living in North Carolina that says the medical crisis has been an emotional struggle for them.

Joe Weeks, of Kannapolis, is the nephew of Thomas Eric Duncan, who tested positive for the virus Tuesday – five days after Duncan went to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas for abdominal pains and a fever.

Weeks said Thursday that he and the family, including Duncan's mother and sister, have not been able to sleep.

"Everybody is under a lot of stress," he told reporters outside his home. "No one wishes this on anybody, but unfortunately, this is what we have."

Weeks said Duncan arrived in Dallas Sept. 20 for his son's college graduation and began having symptoms four days later.

The next day, on Sept. 25, he went to the hospital and, despite telling a nurse he had traveled from Africa, was released.

Weeks – who says he was raised with Duncan in Liberia and considers him his brother – says he then called the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Duncan returned to the hospital Sept. 28 and was isolated. He tested positive for Ebola Sept. 30.

After many calls, Weeks says, he now believes his uncle is getting the best medical care possible.

Weeks says Duncan's spirits are low but that the family, who hopes to travel to Dallas soon, is trying to give him as much support as possible over the phone, sometimes twice a day.

"When I talk to him, his spirits are down, but as the conversation progresses, it goes up because I'm his strength," Weeks said.

The situation has also been difficult for the family, he says, because people living in the Kannapolis neighborhood fear that Weeks' house has somehow been contaminated with the virus that causes Ebola.

Weeks says that, although they keep in touch over the phone, he hasn't seen his uncle in 20 years, and Duncan has never been to Kannapolis.

As for Duncan's case, Texas health officials said Thursday that they have expanded their efforts to contain the Ebola virus, reaching out to as many as 100 people who may have had direct contact with Duncan or someone close to him.

Four people with whom Duncan was staying in Dallas have also been quarantined as a precaution.

None of the people is showing symptoms, but public-health officials have educated them about Ebola and told them to notify medical workers if they begin to feel ill

The virus that causes Ebola is not airborne and can be spread only through close contact with someone who has symptoms. People have to come into direct contact with the patient's bodily fluids — blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen — and those fluids must have an entry point.

Weeks says that, so far, Duncan's case appears to be isolated, and he prays it stays that way.

"Ebola is a very dangerous and vicious virus, so we want to go ahead and get rid of this disease and try to hope that nobody else gets infected," he said.


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  • Vincent Vega Oct 3, 2014


    CNN reports that a Washington-area hospital has admitted a patient with symptoms possibly associated with Ebola, the Howard University Hospital said Friday.

    The patient, who was not named, had traveled to Nigeria and upon returning was "presenting with symptoms that could be associated with Ebola," according to hospital spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton.

    The unidentified patient is listed in stable condition, according to Kerry-Ann Hamilton, a spokesperson for the hospital.

    The hospital released the following statement:

    We can confirm that a patient has been admitted to Howard University Hospital in stable condition, following travel to Nigeria and presenting with symptoms that could be associated with Ebola.

    In an abundance of caution, we have activated the appropriate infection control protocols, including isolating the patient.

    Our medical team continues to evaluate and monitor progress in close collaboration with the CDC and the Department of Health.

  • A cold, hard dose of Hans Oct 3, 2014

    View quoted thread

    HA HA! That is so true. The cousin of a Texas man being treated for Ebola once passed through Raleigh on his way to Myrtle Beach.

  • disgusted2010 Oct 3, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I posted the same thing, would have been the first post, but mine was censored by the PC, scandal mongering, have to be relevant censors.

  • A cold, hard dose of Hans Oct 3, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I can see why you might think that considering the stellar way in which our health authorities responded to the case in Texas. Let's see if they do better in DC.

  • theysayirock Oct 3, 2014

    I love how WRAL always finds a way to try to include NC in almost every national news story. Its pathetic frankly.

  • Tired_of _the_Governmental_ Abus Oct 3, 2014

    Well, we can all see the future of this epidemic, by watching the TNT show "The Last Ship". The pharmaceutical companies will rule the world.

  • John Heitzenrater Oct 3, 2014
    user avatar

    i hate to spoil the DOOMPOCALYPSE OF THE WEEK, but there is about zero chance of a major ebola pandemic in this country.

  • Tired_of _the_Governmental_ Abus Oct 3, 2014

    This country needs to wake up. History is repeating itself and there was a place called Ellis Island.
    We need to STOP all passports into this country from Africa to protect the masses.
    On a second thought, they can just cross over from Mexico.

  • Danny22 Oct 3, 2014

    I don't understand why foreign travel is still allowed. People are lying. And our gov't is most likely lying. We will see. Obama said no problems in the US. I hope that is right. Can't help but remember all the other lies he has told.

  • glarg Oct 3, 2014

    So an update to this official lie about how there is no danger of infection:

    - Thomas Duncan was vomiting and convulsing when they were trying to get him into the Ambulance
    - He vomited in the common courtyard of the apartment building
    - He was reported to have diarrhea in the apartment.
    - The ambulance crew didnt knew he was an ebola patient and didnt take additional precautions
    - The ambulance wasnt sanitized for 48 hours and carried other patients
    -The family brought the blanket he was sweating into to the hospital and it was sitting on the waiting room chairs
    - The apartment still hasnt been sanitized -The family isnt quarentined. They are just in the apartment and have been let out to buy groceries. -The children from the apartment were sent over to their grandmothers and then out to school.

    This really wasnt a great response.