Who Is The U.S. Ebola Victim? Thomas Eric Duncan Is African-Born With American Relatives

The Ebola victim who traveled from West Africa and was diagnosed in Dallas, Texas has been identified as Thomas Eric Duncan, a resident of Monrovia, Liberia in his mid-40s. The Liberian capital is where the West African outbreak has been most deadly. According to The New York Times, Duncan had helped an Ebola-stricken female family friend to the hospital four days before he flew to the United States; Duncan was a tenant in the home owned by the woman's family. She died shortly thereafter, and her brother developed the virus days later.

Duncan's sister told the Associated Press that her brother had initially gone to the hospital Friday, and told staff there that he'd traveled from Liberia — the hub of the West Africa epidemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people. According to Duncan's sister, staff sent him home with antibiotics, and when Duncan returned two days later with more severe symptoms, authorities isolated him and tested him for Ebola. On Tuesday, it was confirmed by test results that Duncan was suffering from the virus.

So why was Duncan in the States? According to neighbors who spoke to the Times, Duncan's son and sister lived in the States, and it's thought he was traveling to visit them.

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On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry held a press conference, revealing that Duncan had come into contact with five young people, all of whom are being monitored for symptoms. The ambulance crew that took Duncan to the hospital are also being observed, but Duncan came into contact with the now-deceased Monrovia woman on Sept. 15 — two weeks before he was isolated.

However, Ebola can remain dormant for up to three weeks after infection, and is not contagious until symptoms start. Even then, it's not very contagious — it can't be transmitted through air, for example, and others have to come in contact with a victim's bodily fluid to catch the virus.

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