Texas Nurse Who Had Worn Protective Gear Tests Positive for Ebola

Elizabeth Cohen et al., CNN, October 12, 2014

The deadly Ebola virus has been contracted by someone inside the United States for the first time.

A nurse who had worn protective gear during her “extensive contact” at a Dallas hospital with an Ebola patient who died tested positive during a preliminary blood test, officials said Sunday.

The woman had on a gown, gloves, mask and a shield during her multiple visits with Thomas Eric Duncan, but there was a breach in protocol, health officials said.


She was involved in Duncan’s care after he was placed in isolation–his second trip to the hospital after coming to the United States from Liberia–said Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC.

The nurse is in stable condition, Texas Health Resources chief clinical officer Dan Varga said. Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died Wednesday.

The nurse had “extensive contact” on “multiple occasions” with Duncan, Frieden said.

“At some point, there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection,” he said at a news conference Sunday. “The (Ebola treatment) protocols work. . . . But we know that even a single lapse or breach can result in infection.”

Also, Varga said that someone who is a “close contact” of the nurse has been “proactively” placed in isolation.

The hazardous materials unit of the Dallas Fire Department has cleaned up and decontaminated the public areas of the health worker’s apartment complex, Mayor Mike Rawlings said. {snip}


“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in a statement Sunday morning.

“We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”


The World Health Organization estimates more than 8,300 people have contracted Ebola during this year’s outbreak. Of those, more than 4,000 have died.


Those stricken with Ebola suffer ghastly symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, fever and internal bleeding.

Three countries–Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia–have been hardest hit. And many of those who care for the ill have also come down with the disease.

The World Health Organization estimates at least 416 health care workers have contracted Ebola, and at least 233 have died.

In Liberia, health care workers are threatening to strike if their work conditions don’t improve.

The first infection outside of Africa happened in a nurse’s aide in Spain, Teresa Romero Ramos. She became sick after she helped treat an Ebola-stricken Spanish missionary.


And now, the search begins for all the contacts whom the nurse came in contact with.

“We need a whole new crew of people to do contact tracing,” said Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent.

Because Ebola’s incubation period can last up to 21 days, the health nurse’s contacts will have to be monitored for three weeks.


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