Six weeks ago, in anticipation that at some point we’d see an Ebola death in this country, we saw the release of the CDC’s Interim Ebola Guidance: Mortuary Removal and Handling. Today, those recommendations are going to be followed by the State of Texas in handling the remains of Eric Duncan, who sadly died this morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Here is the emailed press release ase from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Oct. 8, 2014
State Officials Follow Federal Guidance After Ebola Death
State health officials are following strict guidelines outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in handling the body of a man who died earlier today after developing Ebola.
Thomas Eric Duncan died this this morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.
"This is a difficult time for the family, and our thoughts are with them," said Dr. David Lakey, Texas health commissioner. "We will continue to treat Mr. Duncan with dignity and respect, and we're taking great care to make sure there is no additional risk that others could be infected."
The CDC has developed detailed instructions for handling a body infected with Ebola. The guidelines recommend careful preparation of the body before movement, including enclosing it in two bags and disinfecting the bags. After this process, the body can be transported without the need for protective gear for a driver or others who are near the body but don't handle the remains.
After that careful preparation, the body will be cremated. CDC guidelines say remains infected with Ebola can be cremated or "buried promptly in a hermetically sealed casket."
Dr. Lakey offered his personal condolences to the family and explained the reasons why the state recommended cremation. The family agreed.
The cremation process will kill any virus in the body so the remains can be returned to the family. No protective gear is needed to handle the remains after cremation.
CDC guidelines for health care workers, including those for handling human remains, are available at www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/index.html.
State and local officials are continuing to monitor 48 people who came into contact with the Dallas patient before he was isolated. None of those individuals has shown any symptoms of Ebola.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood, secretions or other bodily fluids or exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles. Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear, which can occur two to 21 days after exposure.