EMILY SCHMALL, Associated Press HOLBROOK MOHR, Associated Press NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) – Thomas Eric Duncan’s temperature spiked to 103 degrees during the hours of his initial visit to an emergency room – a fever that was flagged with an exclamation point in the hospital’s record-keeping system, his medical records show.
Despite telling a nurse that he had recently been in Africa and displaying other symptoms that could indicate Ebola, the man who would become the only person to die from the disease in the U.S. underwent a battery of tests and was eventually sent home.
Duncan’s family provided his medical records – more than 1,400 pages in all – to The Associated Press. They encompass his time in the ER, his urgent return to the hospital two days later and chronicle his steep decline as his organs began to fail.
Duncan carried the deadly virus with him from his home in Liberia, though he reportedly showed no symptoms when he left for the United States. He arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 and fell ill several days later.
When he first showed up at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Duncan complained of abdominal pain, dizziness, a headache and decreased urination. He reported severe pain – rating it an eight on a scale of 10. Doctors gave him CT scans to rule out appendicitis, stroke and numerous other serious ailments. Ultimately, he was prescribed antibiotics and told to take Tylenol, then returned to the apartment where he was staying with a Dallas woman and three other people.
After his condition worsened, someone in the apartment called 911, and paramedics took him back to the hospital on Sept. 28. That’s when he was admitted and swiftly put in isolation.
The documents also show that a nurse recorded early in Duncan’s first hospital visit that he recently came to the U.S. from Africa, though he denied having been in contact with anyone sick.
Hospital spokesman Wendell Watson did not immediately respond to phone, email and text messages left by AP on Friday. A doctor who evaluated Duncan did not respond to a message left at his office.
Schmall reported from North Carolina