First Ebola patient diagnosed in US dies in Dallas

Rev. Jesse Jackson (L) stands with Nowai korkoyah (C) the mother of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, as well as his nephew, Josephus Weeks, after they spoke to the media at the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital on October 7, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.
Rev. Jesse Jackson (L) stands with Nowai korkoyah (C) the mother of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, as well as his nephew, Josephus Weeks, after they spoke to the media at the Texas Health Presbyterian hospital on October 7, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP/REUTERS) - A Liberian man who was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Texas has died, a hospital spokesman said on Wednesday.

"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 am," said the statement from Texas Health spokesman Wendell Watson. "Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola. He fought courageously in this battle."

Duncan became ill after arriving in the Texas city from the West African country of Liberia to visit family, heightening concerns the world's worst Ebola outbreak on record could spread in the United States.

Duncan was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola outside West Africa, where the hemorrhagic virus has killed more than 3,400 people since the beginning of the year. He flew from Liberia to Texas to visit family, arriving in Dallas on September 20. He began feeling sick four days later, but was not hospitalized until September 28.

"The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal. Today they lost a dear member of their family," said Texas health commissioner David Lakey. "They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts."

He said that the medical team in Texas has "provided excellent and compassionate care, but Ebola is a disease that attacks the body in many ways".

Health officials are monitoring dozens of people who may have come in contact with Duncan, including about 10 who are considered at high risk of contracting Ebola.

The virus is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, or by touching the corpse of a person who has died of Ebola, experts say.