A health care worker who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan tested positive for the Ebola virus in the first known case of Ebola transmission in the United States. The Centers For Disease Control are citing a “breach in protocol” as the likely explanation for the transmission of the deadly virus.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas reported a low-grade fever Friday night and was isolated, the health department said. A blood sample tested positive at the state public-health laboratory in Austin late Saturday, and a confirmatory test was conducted by the CDC in Atlanta. A person close to the case has claimed the individual infected was a nurse caring for Duncan before he passed away last week from the virus.
According to the report, the health care worker who tested positive for Ebola was in the “low risk” category. However, the person was in a group of 18 hospital staff members who were told to check their temperatures twice a day for fever. If a fever was present, they were to immediately report it. That is exactly what this individual did. As soon as the fever was discovered, the worker was isolated within 90 minutes.
According to USA Today, CDC chief Thomas Frieden said his agency will investigate how a worker in full protective gear contracted the virus. Frieden notes that a “breach in protocol” must have taken place at some point in Duncan’s care for the healthcare worker to become infected.
“At some point there was a breach in protocol. That breach in protocol resulted in this infection.”
The phone call from the CDC of the Ebola confirmation reached the Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings around midnight on Saturday. The news of the Ebola transmission has triggered a new round of decontamination and new steps to reassure residents. Rawlings says that he was “disappointed but not surprised.” He also noted that “the odds were we would have another one.”
Following the Ebola virus confirmation, members of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department began decontaminating everything in the worker’s apartment building. The team worked for over seven hours, and treated everything outside and in the common areas of the building, including the laundry room, entrance way, elevator, and hallways. However, they did not enter the worker’s apartment.
Rawlings said the patient’s dog, still inside the apartment, will soon be sent to a new location to await a reunion with its owner. There were no plans to euthanize the dog as Spanish officials did in a case last week, he said.
Though the hospital was able to successfully quarantine the infected worker, Frieden notes that “unfortunately, it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of Ebola,” referring to the other health care workers who treated Duncan.