Ebola patient Thomas Duncan’s liver condition has improved, according to the Dallas hospital where he’s being treated, though he remains in critical but stable condition as of Tuesday.
Duncan’s liver function declined over the weekend, leading doctors at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to downgrade his status from serious to critical. Duncan is currently on a ventilator receiving kidney dialysis, while on Monday he begun taking the experimental Ebola drug brincidofovir, which the hospital says he will continue to receive.
While the slight uptick in Duncan’s status marks a sign of hope for his eventual recovery from the Ebola virus, Duncan’s doctors warn his liver function can still vary over the next few days. It’s also unknown whether the experimental drug is having an effect on Duncan’s status. It hasn’t been treated extensively on humans, so there’s little roadmap data available to which doctors can compare Duncan’s treatment. Like ZMapp, the other experimental drug given to some Ebola patients, it’s very difficult to suss out the impact of a drug that has not undergone human clinical trials. There’s no way to know for certain if a drug is helping, hindering, or irrelevant to a patient’s care.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a press conference Tuesday that progress in the global fight against Ebola is being seen in Texas and abroad. So far, the 48 people with whom Duncan had some level of contact in Dallas remain healthy, Frieden said.
Frieden also confirmed that the CDC will be bolstering airport screenings for travelers headed to or from areas known to be Ebola hotspots, most notably West Africa.
“We are working very intensely on screening,” Frieden said. “We are looking at that entire process and seeing what more can be done.”