Ebola: Health care worker tests positive at Texas hospital

Source: pointblanknews.com

A Texan health worker who treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan before he died is also infected with the virus, according to a preliminary test.

The worker, whose name was not given, wore full protective gear when treating Duncan on his second visit to a Dallas hospital, an official told reporters.

The new patient has been placed in an isolation ward and is said to be in a stable condition.

If confirmed, this is the first known transmission of Ebola on US soil.

Duncan, who caught the virus in his native Liberia, died on Wednesday.

The current Ebola outbreak, concentrated in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, has resulted in  more than 8,300  confirmed and suspected cases, and at least 4,033 deaths.

Sent home by hospital
No details of the health worker's identity or position at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital were given, in accordance with family wishes.

Dr David Varga, of the Texas Health Resource, said the worker had been in full protective gear when providing care to Duncan during his second visit.

The worker reported a low-grade fever on Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing, officials said. Preliminary test results were received late on Saturday.

A car belonging to the infected health worker has been decontaminated, officials say.

Duncan tested positive in Dallas on 30 September, 10 days after arriving on a flight from Monrovia via Brussels.

He had become ill a few days after arriving in the US, and went to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with a high fever.

More than 4,000 people have died from the Ebola outbreak

But despite telling medical staff he had been in Liberia, he was sent home with painkillers and antibiotics.

Duncan was later put into an isolation unit at the hospital but died despite being given an experimental drug.

“Health officials have interviewed the patient and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures,” Texas health care services said.

Tulip Mazumdar describes the protective measures taken by journalists covering the Ebola crisis

“People who had contact with the health care worker after symptoms emerged will be monitored based on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus.”

Some 50 people who had direct or indirect contact with Duncan are already being monitored in case they develop symptoms.

More tests on the US health care worker are being carried out at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. If Ebola is confirmed, it would be the first time the infection is known to have spread within the US.

A nurse in Spain contracted the haemorrhagic fever while caring for patients who came from West Africa.

The arrival of Ebola in Texas prompted the US authorities to introduce screening of passengers from affected countries at airports, starting on Saturday at New York's JFK.

Passengers from those countries will have their temperatures taken and have to answer a series of questions.

With the numbers of those affected continuing to rise in West Africa, the UN special envoy on Ebola says he hopes that the outbreak can be brought under control within three months.

David Nabarro  told the BBC  the number of Ebola cases was currently increasing exponentially, but greater awareness would help contain the virus.

“I think we've got much better community involvement [now] which leads me to believe that getting it under control within the next three months is a reasonable target,” he said.

Mr Nabarro described the accelerating increase of new cases as “quite frightening”.

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