SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) – American health authorities need to urgently rethink how to deal with Ebola, a senior health official said yesterday as officials in Texas scrambled to identify all hospital staff involved in the care of a Liberian man who last week became the first casualty from the virus in the US.
At least 50 hospital workers are believed to have had contact with Thomas Duncan, who died last Wednesday, including a nurse who was confirmed on Sunday as having contracted the virus in the first case of Ebola transmission in the US and the second outside Africa.
“We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection and control because even a single infection is unacceptable,” Tom Frieden, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said at a press conference.
“If this one individual was infected within the isolation unit, then it is possible that other individuals could have been infected as well. So we consider them to potentially be at risk.”
Symptoms but stable
Federal and state health officials are working together to identify and interview the healthcare workers involved in Mr Duncan’s treatment, as well as anyone the nurse may have made contact with once she began showing symptoms. Mr Frieden said the nurse was stable.
His comments came as Spain’s foreign affairs minister defended his government’s decision to repatriate two Spanish nationals suffering from Ebola, which led to a nurse who treated them becoming the first person to contract the virus outside west Africa.
“The government did what it had to do,” José Manuel Garcia-Margallo told El Pais newspaper. “The duty of a state is to protect its citizens – and even more so when they are in difficult circumstances far from Spain. All the developed countries who have had this problem have done the same.”
Spanish nurse Teresa Romero Ramos tested positive for the Ebola virus after treating the two missionaries who both died. She remains in a stable but serious condition.
The director general of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, described the crisis as the most severe acute public health emergency in modern times. She said new cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were rising exponentially: “The world is ill-prepared to respond to any severe, sustained and threatening public health emergency.”
In a statement to a regional health conference in the Philippine capital, Manila, she said: “I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries. I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure.– (Guardian service)