Second Dallas health care worker tests positive for Ebola

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(Image: MGN Online)

(CNN) — A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, health officials said Wednesday — casting further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees.

The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.

The preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the health department said.

But the pool of contacts could be small, since Ebola can only be transmitted when an infected person shows symptoms. Less than a day passed between the onset of the worker’s symptoms and isolation at the hospital.

Official: Duncan should have been moved

An official close to the situation says that in hindsight, Duncan should have been transferred immediately to either Emory University Hospital in Atlanta or Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Those hospitals are among only four in the country that have biocontainment units and have been preparing for years to treat a highly infectious disease like Ebola.

“If we knew then what we know now about this hospital’s ability to safely care for these patients, then we would have transferred him to Emory or Nebraska,” the official told CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

“I think there are hospitals that are more than ready, but I think there are some that are not.”

The second time

The latest infection marks the second-ever transmission of Ebola in the United States. Both stemmed from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Late last week, nurse Tina Pham tested positive for Ebola. She also took care of Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Duncan died last week.

On Tuesday, Pham said she was doing well.

“I am blessed by the support of family and friends, and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world,” she said.

Troubling allegations

Also Tuesday, National Nurses United made troubling allegationsabout the hospital, claiming “guidelines were constantly changing” and “there were no protocols” about how to deal with the deadly virus.”

“The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place, and that those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States as far as we can tell,” NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. “We’re deeply alarmed.”

Nurses were told to wrap their necks with medical tape when equipment left their necks exposed; they felt unsupported and unprepared, and they received no hands-on training, union co-president Deborah Burger said.

A Texas Health Presbyterian spokesman did not respond to the specific allegations, but said patient and employee safety is the hospital’s top priority.

Global epidemic

While the Texas hospital deals with its third Ebola patient, the situation in West Africa is getting increasingly dire.

More than 4,000 people have died from Ebola this year in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

And it could be up to 10,000 new Ebola cases per week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of this year as the outbreak spreads, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he’ll reach out directly to heads of state to encourage other countries to do more to fight back.

“There are a number of countries that have capacity that have not yet stepped up,” he said. “Those that have stepped up, all of us, are going to have to do more.”

8 comments

  • Branko Pezdi

    Another Obama success story – and this may be the worst of them all. Is there anything more idio+ic than allowing Ebola patients into the U.S. and then caring for them at a facility not equipped to handle deadly infectious diseases? What is more idio+ic than the rationalizations by Obama and his political shills at the CDC and NIH that a travel ban and a quarantine of the affected countries is “counterproductive”? What will happen when Ebola breaks out in Central America and millions of diseased refugees are allowed to cross an unprotected border, thanks to Democrat Party greed for power? We already have a hint with the enterovirus epidemic hitting American kids, which the government is suppressing the facts on. Does anyone believe that if the Ebola epidemic had hit a poor white country, say, Moldova, the Obama-Holder administration would not IMMEDIATELY have quarantined the country and NOT sent American troops to do a task not in their job description? We have been living every day now for six years Obama’s fundamental transformation of America (and destruction of the Constitution), and the biggest nightmare may only be beginning.

    • Branko Pezdi

      Four – repeat, only FOUR – facilities are equipped to handle Ebola patients in the U.S. God forbid, if the virus mutates and can be transmitted into the lungs (despite assurances by the brains at CDC and NIH that such an occurrence is “impossible”), the U.S. and the civilized world may experience the equivalent of the 14th century Black Death pandemic. If such is the case, Obama will join the ranks of Stalin, Hitler and Mao Tse Tung as one of history’s greatest mass murderers.

  • Barack Ebola

    According to the CDC’s own website.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/case-definition.html
    “Close contact is defined as a.being within approximately 3 feet (1 meter) of an EVD patient or within the patient’s room or care area for a prolonged period of time (e.g., health care personnel, household members) while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment (i.e., standard, droplet, and contact precautions; see Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations)”

    The infographic spread around by this administration is that you CANNOT get Ebola from the air, if that is true, why does 3 feet matter? Why not 2 feet? 2 inches? That is because it DOES transmit through sneezing, coughing, or other aerosolized particles that you breath in.

    With a fatality rate of 50% to 90%, how much faith do you have with this administration’s talking heads that “don’t worry, all is well”?

    • Stacy Peebles

      You need to go back and read that again. You posted what is listed under LOW RISK EXPOSURE, meaning little chance of catching. This is not a disease you catch through “being around” someone who has it unless you have possibly exchanged body fluids with that person. This is the reason the boyfriend of the nurse who is sick in Dallas has been isolated and nobody else. This is also the reason she contracted the disease during her decontamination process after caring for her patient. She came in direct contact with blood on her clothing while undressing from her protective gear. Yes, this is a serious problem and yes, I am concerned, but more so because my daughter is a nurse in a local ICU unit that would care for these type patients. I do not concern myself that this might become as widespread as in Africa, a third world country that has not a clue how to care for their patients and where many do not get care. They are simply buried in make shift graves without proper confinement. The CDC plainly states the body is even more contagious after death due to the full release of bodily fluids upon death. The bodies are not to be processed and they are instructing funeral home directors on the proper procedures as well. I blame Obama for allowing the American’s to come home for treatment, thus bringing this virus to our country. If they volunteered to go and care for African’s who had this disease then they gave up their rights to come home for care if infected. Now this problem has been brought into our country and countless lives will be lost over stupidity. My thoughts and prayers are with the care givers of these patients and their families. I pray that my daughter will not be taking care of any patients with this disease and that God watches over her in her job.

  • Jeremy Smith

    Thanks Obama… Won’t close the border with ANYONE…Won’t stop flights from the affected areas…Won’t take advice from experts in the war on terrorism.. And GEEZE MAN..take advice from your golf pro..because Dude.. Your swing sucks!! Ebola…ready or not.. Here we come. God help us all

  • mamac

    The guy that brought this crap here he should be prosecuted..He knew he had been exposed he should have been some common courteous and stayed in Africa.. But no now it is in Dallas a few hundred of miles away…

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