SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) A Texas health care worker who was in full protective gear while providing hospital care for an Ebola patient who later died has tested positive for the virus and is in stable condition, health officials said Sunday. If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.
Meanwhile, a top federal health official said the health care worker’s Ebola diagnosis shows there was a clear breach of safety protocol and all those who treated Thomas Eric Duncan are now considered to be potentially exposed.
Dr. Daniel Varga, of the Texas Health Resources, said during a news conference Sunday that the worker wore a gown, gloves, mask and shield while they provided care to Duncan during his second visit to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Varga did not identify the worker and says the family of the worker has “requested total privacy.”
Varga says the health care worker reported a fever Friday night as part of a self-monitoring regimen required by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said another person also remains in isolation, and the hospital has stopped accepting new emergency room patients.
Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died Wednesday in Dallas.
“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. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”
But Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Sunday raised concerns about a possible breach of safety protocol and told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that among the things CDC will investigate is how the workers took off that gear – because removing it incorrectly can lead to a contamination.
“I think the fact that we don’t know of a breach in protocol is concerning, because clearly there was a breach in protocol.” Frieden said. “We have the ability to prevent the spread of Ebola by caring safely for patients … We’ll conduct a full investigation of what happens before health workers go in, what happens when they’re there, and what happens in the taking out, taking off their protective equipment because infections only occur when there’s a breach in protocol.”
Health officials have interviewed the patient and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures. They said 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.
Officials said they also received information that there may be a pet in the health care worker’s apartment, and they have a plan in place to care for the animal. They do not believe the pet has signs of having contracted Ebola.
Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s top administrative official, said the unidentified health care worker is a “heroic” person who “was proud to provide care to Mr. Duncan.” He said the health care worker’s family has requested privacy because they are “going through a great ordeal.”