Sanitizing crew turned away at Ebola patient’s residence in Dallas

Four days after a man was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, the apartment where he stayed has not been sanitized, a cleaning crew contracted to do the job said. Four other people are still living there.

Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person diagnosed with Ebola on American soil when he was hospitalized this week after arrival from Liberia.

His partner and her family are in isolation at the apartment, which still has the sheets and towels used by Duncan.

Before leaving his homeland, Duncan answered no to questions on whether he was exposed to the deadly virus, said Binyah Kesselly, board chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority.

Duncan had been helping Ebola patients in Liberia, including caring for one at a residence outside the capital of Monrovia, Liberian community leader Tugbeh Chieh Tugbeh said.

Cleanup delayed

As concerns grow over how many people he may have exposed to the deadly virus, a plan to sanitize the apartment was delayed late Thursday.

Brad Smith of the Cleaning Guys, the company hired to sanitize the apartment, said they do not have the proper permits to transport hazardous waste on Texas highways.

Smith said authorities sent them away late Thursday before they entered the apartment and told them to come back with proper permits. It’s unclear how long that will take.

“The permit is being processed through DOT (Department of Transportation) because it is a special permit,” Smith said.

“This is a unique situation. Once awarded our hazmat teams will be allowed back inside to do their jobs.”

This was Duncan’s first time in the United States, according to Wilfred Smallwood, his half-brother.

Smallwood said he was visiting his son and his son’s mother in Dallas. Duncan’s partner has been quarantined in her Dallas apartment, the woman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Louise, is quarantined with one of her children who is younger than 13 and two nephews in their 20s.

Louise used bleach to clean her apartment, “but it’s not clear to me how systematic the cleaning was,” Cooper said.

Reaching out to dozens who had contact with him

Health officials are reaching out to as many as 100 people who may have had contact with Duncan, said a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services. These are people who are still being questioned because they may have crossed paths with the patient either at the hospital, at his apartment complex or in the community.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we’re starting with this very wide net, including people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home,” spokeswoman Carrie Williams said. “The number will drop as we focus in on those whose contact may represent a potential risk of infection.”

The number of direct contacts who have been identified and are being monitored right now is “more than 12,” a federal official told CNN.

Being “monitored” means a public health worker visits twice a day to take the contact’s temperature and ask them if they are experiencing any symptoms.

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.