Nurses who treated Thomas Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., have revealed new details about the Liberian national’s case, including that he allegedly misled health workers about his exposure to the virus. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which has come under fire for initially sending Duncan away even though he had a fever and said he had just arrived from Africa, had little reason to believe he might have had Ebola when he first sought treatment, health workers said during an interview Sunday with CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
“I asked, ‘Have you been in contact with anyone who's been sick?’” Sidia Rose, an emergency room nurse who treated Duncan, told “60 Minutes” about his second visit to the hospital. “He said no.” Rose said Duncan told her his daughter had died in childbirth, but that she did not have Ebola. He later denied that story to Texas state health officials. Duncan also told hospital staff during his second visit that he had not been in contact with anyone who had Ebola, but it was later revealed that Duncan had helped carry a woman infected with Ebola to a hospital in Liberia, something Duncan had earlier failed to mention on a health form that he had filled out at the airport in Liberia.
When Duncan first visited the hospital in Dallas on Sept. 26, six days after arriving in the U.S. from Liberia and two days after his first symptoms had set in, he told nurses he had just returned from Africa, but did not specify that he had come from West Africa, the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic. The nurses did not press Duncan on the details of his travel history, something that could have alerted them to his exposure to the virus. He returned to the hospital two days later after his symptoms worsened.
"On the first day he didn't say much," John Mulligan, a nurse at Texas Presbyterian who treated Duncan, told “60 Minutes.” "You could look in his eyes and tell he just didn't feel good. And we offered him words of encouragement. We let him know that we're here, whatever you need -- let us know and we'll get it.”
Two nurses who were in contact with Duncan during his stay at the hospital later tested positive for the virus. The nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, have reportedly recovered from Ebola.