Monday, October 13, 2014


Dallas health worker 2nd in U.S. to test positive for Ebola

A nurse became the first person to contract Ebola within the United States, prompting local, state and federal officials who had settled into a choreographed response to scramble Sunday to solve the mystery of how she became infected despite wearing protective gear and to monitor additional places and people possibly at risk.

The news further stoked fears of health care workers across the country, many of whom have grown increasingly anxious about having to handle Ebola cases. The confirmation Sunday of the second Ebola case in Dallas — four days after the death Wednesday of the first patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, a Liberian who arrived in this country in September — opened a new and more frightening chapter in the unfolding public health drama.

While the new Ebola patient was not publicly identified, officials said that she was a nurse who had helped treat Duncan at a Dallas hospital here and that she may have violated safety protocols. It was the first confirmed instance of Ebola being transmitted in this country. Officials expanded the pool of people they had been monitoring, because the nurse had not been among the 48 health care workers, relatives of Duncan and others whom they were evaluating daily.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that health officials look more closely at the protective gear that nurses, doctors and hospital assistants use when treating Ebola patients. It also, for the first time, was considering the idea that patients with the virus should be transferred to hospitals with special containment units and experience in treating the disease. The Dallas hospital at the center of the two Ebola cases — Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which sent Duncan home on Sept. 25 under the mistaken belief he had a sinus infection, only to have him return Sept. 28 when his conditions worsened — was facing renewed scrutiny over whether it had properly trained its workers.

The CDC said it will conduct a nationwide training conference call Tuesday for thousands of health care workers to ensure they would be fully prepared to treat a patient with Ebola.

“The care of Ebola patients can be done safely, but it’s hard to do it safely,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said Sunday. “Even a single, inadvertent innocent slip can result in contamination.”

The stricken nurse reported a low-grade fever overnight Friday, officials said. It appeared that she drove herself to the emergency room of Presbyterian Hospital, where she worked, and was admitted and put in isolation 90 minutes later, the officials said.

She had extensive contact with Duncan on multiple occasions after his second visit and admission to the hospital on Sept. 28, Frieden said.
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