Wednesday, October 15, 2014 11:34 am
A second health worker at the Texas hospital where the first case of Ebola contamination on US soil occurred has tested positive for the disease, the state government said Wednesday.
Like the first case, the second concerned a caregiver who treated a Liberian Ebola sufferer who later died at the Dallas hospital, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
The second worker came down with a fever on Tuesday and was isolated at the hospital right away.
“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 in a statement.
Both of the health workers had cared for Ebola sufferer Thomas Duncan, who is thought to have contracted the disease while still in Liberia, and who died on October 8.
Meanwhile, the first infected nurse says she is doing well, according to a hospital statement.
“I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers,” said the statement from Nina Pham.
“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 here at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.”
Pham is 26 years old, a newly minted nurse with few years experience.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said Pham’s infection must have resulted from a breach of protocol, a claim nurses in the hospital have contradicted, saying little or no protocol existed at the time Eric Duncan was admitted.
They told reporters at a telephone news conference that clear treatment guidelines for Ebola were all but non-existent at the Texas hospital.
“The CDC is saying that protocols were breached, but the nurses are saying there were no protocols,” said Roseann DeMoro, head of the group National Nurses United, in a phone conference from California.
The nurses’ union shared the revelations from workers at Presbyterian Hospital Dallas without disclosing their names, because many were afraid that their candor could cost them their jobs.
The first time that the patient came to the hospital he was sent back home, despite having told nurses that he had been in Ebola-stricken Liberia — information that authorities now say should have been a clear tip-off that he could be infected with the illness.
– Duncan exposed ‘for hours’ –
When the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, returned a few days later, feverish and visibly ill, he was made to sit for hours in an emergency room waiting area, exposed to other patients.
The nurses said that after he was admitted, there were no guidelines on how to discard the Liberian patient’s soiled towels and linens.
Duncan during much of his hospital stay was overcome with bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, and the nurses said they had received no clear-cut guidelines about how the toxic mess would be cleaned off the floor, or who would do it.
After Duncan’s death, authorities confirmed that Nina Pham, a nurse at the hospital who took care of him after he was admitted to the hospital, has been infected with Ebola.