A second healthcare worker in the US state of Texas has tested positive for Ebola, health officials have said. Both health workers treated Liberian man Thomas Eric Duncan,
Who died last week after becoming the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the US. A senior Dallas official said there was a “real possibility” of further cases, and contingencies were being prepared.
Meanwhile, the UN’s Ebola mission chief says the world is falling behind in the race to contain the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) says 4,447 people have died from the outbreak, mainly in West Africa. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have been hardest hit by the outbreak, which began in December 2013 but was confirmed in March. President Barack Obama is due to hold a video conference with British, French, German and Italian leaders to discuss the Ebola crisis later on The identity of the second Texas health worker has not yet been revealed. But Texas health officials said she was a woman who lived alone without pets. The disposition of the pets of people infected with Ebola has been a concern – the first woman infected in the US with Ebola had a dog, as did a nurse infected in a Spanish hospital.
In Dallas, the second infected healthcare worker was placed in isolation within 90 minutes of reporting a fever. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer of hospital operator Texas Health Resources, told a joint news conference that she was involved in the care of Mr Duncan and was exposed to the virus some time during his treatment. But Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the authorities were preparing for more possible cases. “We are preparing contingencies for more, and that is a very real possibility,” he said. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said it might take time to deal with the outbreak, but the authorities were “not fearful”. “We can only beat this moment by moment, person by person, detail by detail,” he said at the news conference. “It may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.”
Last weekend, officials said nurse Nina Pham, 26, had been exposed to Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she was involved in Mr Duncan’s care. Doctors at the hospital said she was “doing well” on Tuesday. This is a reminder that Ebola is a dangerous threat even within some of the best hospitals in world. This is the second case of transmission in Texas, on top of the case in Spain.
Protective gear should minimise the risk to health workers treating Ebola patients. But worryingly there have been reports of staff not getting the correct equipment or the necessary training. These isolated cases should not become an outbreak as authorities in both countries are monitoring those who came into contact with infected people. But each new case of transmission is asking the question – is enough being done to protect healthcare workers? -bbc