Ebola Patient Thomas Duncan Dies: American Panic Over Illness Grows

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Thomas Eric Duncan, known as the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, passed away on Wednesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Hospital spokesman Wendell Watson said that the loss filled the medical staff with "profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment."

Duncan was diagnosed on September 28th, a little over a week after returning from Liberia.

Though Thomas Duncan went to visit family, he unfortunate was caught up in the terrible Ebola epidemic that is responsible for thousands of deaths across parts of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and Nigeria.

New cases in the United States and Europe have sparked fears of an emerging pandemic.

Duncan was able to arrive back in the United States and spend several days among other citizens before he checked into a Texas hospital.

The news that a man was diagnosed with the deadly virus on U.S. soil and that dozens of others were at risk has increased the panic among Americans over the disease.

Although Duncan’s death is a tragedy, it’s not confirmation of a pandemic.

It's important remember concern level relating to Ebola will be likely be determined by how both quarantined and monitored individuals who came into contact with Duncan fare.

Though as many as 100 people have had contact with Thomas Duncan prior to his diagnosis, officials have only quarantined his immediate family. Others believed to have been in contact with the deceased Ebola patient are being carefully observed for the next few weeks.

It is this, far more than Duncan's unfortunate death, that will likely give officials an idea of the range of any potential threat.

It’s very possible that persons who are quarantined and observed may not have contracted the illness after all.

Before Americans begin to take one man’s sad death as confirmation of a worst-case-scenario, it’s important to remember to keep things in perspective.

Ebola may be highly contagious, but it's also a very fragile and highly containable disease.

Americans should focus on vaccinating against more common and even FAR more deadly viruses already in our midst. Namely the flu.

The flu kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, a fact that is often lost among the headlines about exotic, but far less deadly threats to citizens in the United States.