Fort Worth

Ebola test comes back negative on Tarrant County man

Andy Perkins is shown here in Liberia.
Andy Perkins is shown here in Liberia. Handout

A Tarrant County man who returned from Liberia last month tested negative for the Ebola virus Friday after being “basically quarantined” at a Dallas hospital, he told the Star-Telegram in an exclusive interview.

Humanitarian Andy Perkins said that since returning from a visit to Liberia on April 21, he had developed a low-grade fever and intestinal upset.

Perkins gets his health care at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, and that is where he went first, he said.

Perkins, who has run a charity in Liberia called BESTWA since 2004, was transferred to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The Tarrant County Public Health Department issued a news release Friday, saying a Tarrant County man had a symptom of the deadly virus.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the patient is being assessed at a North Texas hospital for care and will be tested for Ebola and other diseases,” the news release said.

Just after 7:30 p.m. Friday, Perkins said he was “basically quarantined” while awaiting test results. Later he reported that he was Ebola-free.

Tarrant County officials sent out a second news release at 8 p.m. confirming the negative test result.

Perkins said he was disappointed at having to cancel a trip to Philadelphia to receive a humanitarian award from the Liberian people.

The last known case of Ebola in Liberia was confirmed on March 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rekindles Ebola memories

The news of a potential Ebola case came eight months after Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with the deadly virus after arriving in Dallas from Liberia, setting off a health care scare that stretched far beyond North Texas.

Duncan, 42, died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where two nurses who treated him became infected with the virus.

Nina Pham and Amber Vinson received prompt and specialized treatment and survived, and another 177 people ended up being monitored because of possible exposure. All of those people came out of a 21-day virus incubation period on Nov. 7 with no symptoms of sickness, ending the scare but leaving North Texans with a much greater understanding of the virus.

Pham, who grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from TCU’s nursing school, has sued Texas Health Resources, saying that poor training and preparation caused her to contract Ebola while caring for Duncan. Texas Health filed a response to the suit “generally” denying the allegations.

Interview with Perkins

In October, the Star-Telegram published a story on Perkins and his nonprofit’s efforts to aid Ebola victims in Liberia.

Perkins founded BESTWA in 2004. With an annual budget of about $130,000 plus in-kind donations, the organization’s staff of 22 Liberians feeds about 900 children daily and sends more than 500 to school.

Last fall during the Ebola crisis BESTWA distributed $2.8 million worth of medication to Liberians. The donation came together through contacts Perkins has known for years and a new one he met on an airplane.

Pronounced “best-way,” the name is an acronym created by Liberians: Building Everyone’s Success Together in West Africa.

Dan Baucum, a friend who lives in Midlothian, described Perkins as “one of the most self-sacrificial people I’ve ever seen. They live in a double-wide, live on next to nothing.”

Staff writer Lee Williams contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.