World

Second US healthcare worker has Ebola

Emergency personnel wearing protective clothing approach a residential apartment after a second healthcare worker tested positive for the Ebola virus in Dallas, in a photo provided by the Dallas Police Department on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

A second positive case of Ebola was discovered in a health care worker in Dallas, Texas, who had helped care for Thomas Duncan, the first ever Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., and who died one week ago, according to authorities.

The worker, whose confirmed infection of the deadly disease comes after nurse Nina Pham (26) initially contracted it, also worked at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, and tested positive for Ebola late Tuesday evening.

In a statement hospital authorities noted the health care worker, who was not identified by name but whom Reuters reported was nurse Amber Vinson, was interviewed to identify contacts or potential exposures, adding that all such individuals would be monitored, likely for the 21-day incubation period of the disease.

However, on Wednesday reports surfaced that the second Ebola patient had travelled from Cleveland to Dallas on a commercial airliner with 132 other passengers, after contracting the disease but before symptoms began to show.

Authorities noted that the Ebola virus is not contagious before symptoms set in and the airline used by the patient, Frontier Airlines, said that the woman “exhibited no symptoms or sign of illness while on Flight 1143, according to the crew.”

Yet fears that additional cases could crop up given the risks of exposure from Mr. Duncan were raised even as the Centre for Disease Control, the federal agency leading the effort here to contain the spread of Ebola said, “It is not unexpected that there would be additional exposures,” and although the second healthcare worker testing positive for Ebola was a “serious concern,” and the CDC had already taken active steps to minimise the risk to other healthcare workers and the patient.

News of the second case comes even as Ebola continued to ravage parts of West Africa including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, with the death toll so far reaching nearly 4,500 and nearly 9,000 suspected cases.

Earlier this week World Health Organisation Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward said to media that the number of new cases could reach 10,000 per week in less than two months, compared with nearly 1,000 per week during the past four weeks.

On Tuesday U.S. President Barack Obama exhorted world leaders across nations to do more in the fight against Ebola saying, “I’m going to keep on repeating until we start seeing more progress, the world as a whole is not doing enough. There are a number of countries that have capacity that have not yet stepped up… This is going to continue to pose a threat to individual countries at a time when there’s no place that’s more than a couple of air flights away. And the transmission of this disease obviously directly threats all our populations.”

Individual philanthropic contributions towards this end however received a fillip when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on the social networking site that he and his wife Priscilla had donated $25 million to the CDC to fight the virus.

“We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

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Printable version | Nov 19, 2020 1:50:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/second-us-healthcare-worker-has-ebola/article6503317.ece

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