A Dallas man who was in contact with the first person to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the U.S. said in an interview that the Liberian native had been weak and ill in an apartment after trying to seek help at a hospital days earlier.
Joe Joe Jallah said he met the man diagnosed with Ebola, Thomas Eric Duncan, last week when visiting Jallah’s former wife, Louise Troh, the same woman Duncan had come to see in the U.S.
Numerous members of the Liberian community in North Texas confirmed that Duncan traveled to the U.S. to visit Troh, who is also from Liberia. Troh declined to speak about the situation when reached by phone.
Jallah, who believed that this was Duncan’s first trip to the U.S., said he was anxious to hear from Duncan about the situation in Liberia, where Ebola has ravaged parts of the country.
He listened as Duncan described how dire things had become in Liberia, and how rigorous the health screenings were during his trip to the U.S.
Several days later, on Saturday, Jallah said he had heard that Duncan had fallen ill.
Concerned, Jallah went back to the apartment to check on Duncan.
“He was lying down on the floor with a comforter. He said he was sick and that he had no appetite,” Jallah said. ‘I said, ‘Did you go to the hospital? He said, ‘Yes, but they did nothing for me,’” Jallah recalled. “I said, ‘You should eat so you can gain strength.’ ”
Jallah left to go to work, but returned the next day after his daughter, who lives with Troh, called, sounding frantic, saying that Duncan was still ill.
“When I went back, the man was sitting on the bed. He was drinking coffee or tea. My daughter said let’s call 911, he still doesn’t have an appetite,” Jallah recounted.
Jallah agreed. Troh and her family were growing worried, he said. They all knew that Ebola was tearing through their homeland, though at no time had Duncan talked about coming into contact with sick people before traveling, Jallah said.