October 2014 – AFRICA – Four members of a family with whom the first U.S. Ebola patient was staying were confined to their Dallas home under armed guard Thursday as the circle of people possibly exposed to the virus widened. The unusual confinement was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request not to leave their apartment, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. Thomas Eric Duncan, 40, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, had been staying with the four, whose names have not been released. Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey said the three-week confinement order would help ensure the family can be closely monitored, including checking them for fevers over the next three weeks. The family will not be allowed to receive visitors, officials said.
A woman who lives in the apartment, Louise Troh, said she has been quarantined with her 13-year-old son and two nephews. “Who wants to be locked up?” she said in an interview with The Associated Press. She said she never imagined this could happen to her so far from disease-ravaged West Africa. She added that she wants federal health authorities to decontaminate her home. Liberia has said it will prosecute Duncan, who is from that country, for lying on a health questionnaire. A hazardous material crew arrived to decontaminate the apartment Thursday evening but didn’t have the required permits to clean and remove hazardous waste, city spokesman Richard Hill said. The crew, contracted by the county and state, would return Friday to complete the job. The family must be relocated before the cleanup can begin, Hill said. He had no information on where the family would go.
American Red Cross representatives delivered food to the apartment Thursday and the North Texas Food Bank said it sent cereal, tuna, produce and other supplies. Private security guards and sheriff’s deputies blocked the entrance to the 300-unit apartment complex to dozens of reporters. Texas health officials expanded their efforts to contain the virus, reaching out to as many as 100 people who may have had direct contact with Duncan or someone close to him. None of them has shown symptoms, but they have been told to notify medical workers if they feel ill, said Erikka Neroes, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County Health and Human Services agency. The at-risk group includes 12 to 18 people who had direct contact with the infected man, including an ambulance crew and a handful of schoolchildren, she said. The others came into contact with that core group. –DMN