Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died early Wednesday, Dallas hospital officials said.
"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. Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola," the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a written statement.
Ebola victims, even in death, are highly contagious. Protocols for the disposing of dead bodies have been implemented in the affected countries in West Africa, but the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has just recently sent instructions to funeral homes in the United States.
Wednesday afternoon, Texas health officials told CNN that Duncan's body would be cremated i n line with the protocol, which calls for the body being disposed of in a "hermetically sealed casket" and "leakproof bag."
Duncan arrived via plane from Liberia on September 20. He fell sick on September 24 and sought care two days later. He was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on September 28, which is when the CDC was called into action.
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On social media, the hashtags #RIPThomasDuncan and #Ebola continued to ripple through the Internet, with many expressing condolences to Duncan and his family.
Duncan had reportedly helped carry a woman with Ebola to and from a treatment center in the days before boarding a plane to the United States. He came to Texas to be with Louise Troh, a Dallas woman who is now in quarantine along with two relatives.
Earlier this week, doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian disclosed that they were trying the experimental drug brincidofovir, known as a broad-spectrum antiviral, on Duncan, who remained in critical condition.
The health service said that Duncan had shown a will to live while undergoing treatment.
"He fought courageously in this battle," the Texas Department of State Health Services said. "Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time."
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said that he was sadden by Duncan's death, but reiterated that the deadly virus would be stopped in its tracks.
"I want to reinforce to the public, that this was an isolated incident of the Ebola virus; contracted by the individual while residing in another country ... we will continue to work in partnership with Dallas County to do everything possible to protect our public health and all of the City of Dallas.”
Duncan's death comes on the same day it was announced that five U.S. airports will begin screening for Ebola from passengers whose flights originate in West Africa, where an unprecedented outbreak continues to rage. The airports are JFK, Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson.
This week, the Association of Flight Attendants union called for extraordinary measures to be put in place to protect the U.S. airline industry.
"“Flight Attendants are the first responders to in-flight medical emergencies and we handle a myriad of health related situations," Sara Nelson, AFA president, said in a statement. "We are not, however, professional health care providers and our members have neither the extensive training nor the specialized personal protective equipment required for handling an Ebola patient."
"While contracting Ebola in-flight is highly unlikely, the globalization of today’s aviation industry requires that new, stronger measures must be implemented to protect passengers and crew," she said.
In a press conference Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden tempered expectations about enhanced screening and vigilance from health agencies in the U.S. and abroad, saying, "Whatever we do can't get the risk to zero here in the interconnected world that we live in today."
Frieden also delivered a pointed message to health professionals in the United States: Going foward, if you see someone in ill health, consider Ebola.
Meanwhile, in Dallas another patient was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian with possible symptoms of Ebola.
"Right now, there are more questions than answers about this case," the hospital said in a statement obtained by HLN. "Our professional staff of nurses and doctors is prepared to examine the patient, discuss any findings with appropriate agencies and officials. We are on alert."