Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed of Ebola in the U.S is now also the first person in the country to die of the highly fatal virus.
The 42-year old Liberian national died in the isolation ward of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 11 days after he was admitted to the hospital.
"It is with profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment that we must inform you of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan this morning at 7:51 a.m.," the hospital said in a statement.
Craig Smith, an infectious disease expert from the University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia, said that he was not surprised of Duncan's death because just like any other disease, Ebola is easier to deal with when treated earlier.
Duncan was sent home and only prescribed to take antibiotics when he first sought treatment. It was not until two days later when he was diagnosed and admitted to the hospital. Smith said that two days have likely made a big difference on the patient's survival.
Duncan's family was allowed to view his remains but they were not allowed to perform traditional funeral rites observed in West Africa because this would have family members handling the body raising risks of infection.
Health authorities said that Duncan's body will be cremated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden said that there are large amounts of virus when someone dies. Cremating the remains of the patient would kill the virus and make it safe to return the ashes to the family.
The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said that it will follow guidelines from the CDC on how to handle Duncan's body and this involves enclosing the two bags and disinfecting the bags before transporting the remains. The driver and those near the body do not have to wear protective gear but they are not allowed to handle the Duncan's body before the cremation.
"This is a difficult time for the family, and our thoughts are with them," said Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner David Lakey. "We will continue to treat Mr. Duncan with dignity and respect, and we're taking great care to make sure there is no additional risk that others could be infected."
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that as of Oct. 5, Ebola has infected 8,033 and caused the death of 3,879 individuals.