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The Brief: Oct. 9, 2014

A sad chapter was marked Wednesday in the story of Ebola in Texas with the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who flew to Dallas to join family only to be diagnosed with the deadly disease after arriving.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States diagnosed with the Ebola virus, died in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 8, 2014.

The Big Conversation

A sad chapter was marked Wednesday in the story of Ebola in Texas with the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who flew to Dallas to join family only to be diagnosed with the deadly disease after arriving.

The Associated Press' Emily Schmall had an account of what brought Duncan to these shores, which was a desire to see his son — who had arrived in this country as a toddler — graduate from high school. But from this happy ambition sprung a greater tragedy.

"The trip was the culmination of decades of effort, friends and family members said," Schmall wrote. "But when Duncan arrived in Dallas, though he showed no symptoms, he had already been exposed to Ebola. His neighbors in Liberia believe Duncan become infected when he helped a pregnant neighbor who later died from it. It was unclear if he knew about her diagnosis before traveling."

Meanwhile, fears that the disease could spread continued. Proof of the touchy nerves in the area came later in the day with TV coverage of a sheriff's deputy who had been in Duncan's apartment being taken to the hospital. Officials later said it was unlikely the deputy would develop an Ebola infection. Monitoring of 48 others who were in contact with Duncan continues.

Duncan's death also renewed questions about whether he would have had a better chance at surviving had his infection been diagnosed earlier.

"It remains unclear," wrote The New York TimesManny Fernandez and Dave Philipps, "why, and how, the hospital did not view Mr. Duncan as a potential Ebola case during his first visit to its emergency room, since both the nurses and the doctor had access to the critical information that although his symptoms were not severe, he had recently traveled from West Africa."

It remained far from certain, however, whether earlier intervention would have mattered in the case of a virus as virulent as Ebola.

"It's hard to say why one patient survives and another doesn't and how much good supportive care can do," A. Scott Lea, a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston professor of internal medicine, told the Houston Chronicle's Todd Ackerman. "If Duncan had a viral overload, probably nothing was going to save him."

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Rick Perry will visit at 10:30 a.m. U.S. Army troops at Fort Hood who are preparing to deploy to West Africa to support efforts to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.

•    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is in the Valley, where she will appear at the Valley Environmental Summit in Brownsville. She will also collect at 1:30 p.m. an endorsement from the Cameron County Sheriff Deputies Association.

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Quote to Note

"We thought that because he was in America, he was safe, that he would be the one Liberian to survive."

— Thomas Kwenah, lifelong friend of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on Wednesday of Ebola in Dallas after becoming last week the first case of the viral infection ever recorded in the U.S.

Today in TribTalk

Can Texas Democrats win while losing?, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Sam Houston, 2014 Democratic Nominee for Attorney General, on Oct. 16 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on Oct. 22 at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commission Candidates Steve Brown and Ryan Sitton, on Oct. 30 at The Austin Club in Austin

•    A One-Day Symposium on the Impact of the Shale Boom on Oct. 31 at the University of Texas San Antonio

•    A Live Post-Election TribCast, featuring Tribune editors and reporters on the election results, on Nov. 5 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club

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