Dallas health worker who tested positive for Ebola wore ‘full’ protective gear

Washington Post – by J. Freedom du Lac, Abby Phillip and Brady Dennis

In the first apparent case of Ebola transmission in the United States, a Texas hospital worker who treated an Ebola-stricken Liberian man has tested positive for the deadly virus.

The preliminary test result was announced early Sunday, four days afterthe death of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker reported “a low-grade fever” Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement. This person “was isolated and referred for testing.” The preliminary test result was received late Saturday.  

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey said in a statement. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

Health officials are “deeply concerned” about the apparent case, said Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Clearly there was a breach in protocol. We have the ability to prevent the spread of Ebola by caring safely for patients,” he said in an interview Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Frieden also promised that protocols at the hospital would be reexamined to find out how the disease was apparently transmitted.

“Our team is intensively working with the hospital on both understanding what happened and to find other health-care workers who may be at risk and also making sure that protocols are followed in the care of this individual,” he said.

Health officials have already begun the contact tracing process, scrambling to identify and check in with anybody who recently made contact with the health-care worker. Those people “will be monitored based on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus,” the state said.

It was unclear what role the worker had in caring for Duncan, who was thefirst person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola.

“That health-care worker is a heroic person who helped provide care to Mr. Duncan,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “We expected that it was possible that a second person could contract the virus. Contingency plans were put into place, and the hospital will discuss the way that the health-care worker followed those contingency plans, which will make our jobs in monitoring and containment much easier in this case than in the last one.”

The worker is in isolation and in stable condition, the hospital system said.

Anthony Fauci, acting head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, described the health worker as a woman during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, which operates Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, said the worker had been under self-monitoring in recent days, which includes taking a temperature twice daily. When the health worker showed signs of a fever, the person notified the hospital, went directly there and immediately was admitted to an isolation room. Varga said the entire sequence of events took less than 90 minutes.

Despite transmission of the disease to the worker, who was reportedly wearing protective gear, Fauci said the system for preventing spread of the virus has long worked for organizations that frequently deal with Ebola patients, such as Doctors Without Borders.

“She was on voluntary self-monitoring,” Fauci said. “She found she got infected, and she immediately did what she was supposed to have done.”

“So even in this troublesome situation, the system is working,” Fauci added.

The CDC did not consider person to be “high risk,” Varga said. The person treated Duncan, the Ebola patient, after his second visit to the ER, on Sept. 28. The health worker was “following full CDC precautions,” including wearing a gown, gloves, a mask and a protective face shield.

“We’re very concerned,” Varga said, though he added that the hospital is “confident that the precautions that we have in place are protecting our health-care workers.”

The hospital has put its emergency room on “diversion,” which means that ambulances are not currently bringing patients to the ER, though patients already in the hospital are still being cared for.

“The system of monitoring, quarantine and isolation was established to protect those who cared for Mr. Duncan as well as the community at large by identifying any potential Ebola cases as early as possible and getting those individuals into treatment immediately,” Varga said.

Dallas officials deployed hazmat teams to decontaminate the entrance and common areas of an apartment complex in the 3700 block of Marquita Avenue where the health worker presumptively lives and the vehicle that the person used to travel to the hospital. That person’s home has been secured, and law enforcement officials are ensuring that no one enters. The city also knocked on doors and issued reverse 911 calls to homes in the area and distributed information sheets to homes in the area on Sunday morning.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also said that there is a pet in the worker’s apartment and that “we have a plan in place to take care of the pet,” which seems to have shown no signs of the disease. He said the hazmat team plans to enter the apartment later Sunday and decontaminate it.

“While this is obviously bad news, it is not news that should bring about panic,” Jenkins said.

Duncan traveled by plane from Liberia to Texas through Brussels and Dulles International Airport near Washington, though he wasn’t symptomatic at the time of his trip.

He became sick several days after arriving in Dallas and first sought treatment Sept. 25. But he was released by the hospital, despite saying that he had traveled from Liberia and that he had a fever and abdominal pain.

He was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28, and the CDC confirmed Sept. 30 that he was infected with Ebola.

Ebola is contagious only if someone has symptoms. It can spread through bodily fluids or infected animals but not through the air.

The virus has killed more than 4,000 people and infected more than twice as many this year, according to the World Health Organization.

Months after the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history began ravaging West African countries, the virus has slowly begun to spread around the world.

On Monday, a Spanish sanitary technician who had treated an Ebola-stricken priest in Madrid tested positive for the virus, becoming the first case of Ebola transmission outside Africa.

The nursing assistant said she may have contracted the virus while removing her protective suit. Health-care workers at her hospital are nowrefusing to work, out of concern that the safety conditions there are inadequate.

Sebastian Payne and Josh Hicks contributed to this report.


5 thoughts on “Dallas health worker who tested positive for Ebola wore ‘full’ protective gear

  1. A virus is nothing to take lightly. Ebola, at least this newest strain (aka biological weapon) could spread in the U.S. faster than HIV in a gay bar. However, the more likely scenario is that this is just another scripted part of the stage production that is being used to “justify” martial law, FEMA camps and mandatory “vaccinations”. It’s far better to die fighting than allow them to inject you with a poison that will ensure a slow, painful, and most undignified death.

  2. This is a set up to make everyone take THE MARK OF THE BEAST…mandatory vaccines are coming…you can bet your life on that and this is the stage being set for us……..all the sheep are being herded into that pen…..
    Buy your weapons and ammo and pick a bug out place because this is going to take off….my guess is the “vaccines” have been prepared far in advance to them unleashing the ebola bioweapon on us….
    All of those people who have been sitting on the fence wondering how much worse things could get in America well here is your answer…..the dark cabal is pulling out all of the stops on this one……this was planned years ago.

  3. The health care worker who cared for Duncan must have known she
    might be contaminated at some time because she isolated and monitored her own self in her apartment before becoming symptomatic.
    Dr. Gottlieb who was a speaker on Judge Jeanine said the
    EVD virus can last for days on a surface, not hours and can be considered
    air borne via droplets, he said a meter, but if there is a breeze might not
    the droplets spread further! The dog can be tested prior to deciding to kill just
    like they do lab animals.

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