Uncertainty over how U.S. nurse in Texas contracted Ebola

U.S. President Barack Obama listens to Centres for Disease Control (CDC) Director Tom Frieden via telephone to receive an update on the administration's response to the Ebola case in Dallas and in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington October 13, 2014. At right is Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.  

The second case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., of nurse Nina Pham (26) of Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas, appeared to baffle the medical community here as no breach of protocol was yet identified though it was possible that it was such a breach that led to her contracting the infection.

In an interview, Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the agency was “deeply concerned” about the transmission of the disease from the first ever U.S. patient, Liberian national Thomas Duncan who died last week, and he added, “I think the fact that we don’t know of a breach in protocol is concerning, because clearly there was a breach in protocol.”

Ms. Pham, who was one among approximately 70 staff members at the hospital who cared for Duncan, “drew his blood, put tubes down his throat and wiped up his diarrhoea… analysed his urine and wiped saliva from his lips, even after he had lost consciousness,” according to reports.

In doing so she and other health care workers were said to have worn protective gear, including gloves, masks, face-shields, gowns and, on occasion, even full-body suits.

Though the U.S. has been treating Ebola patients since 1976, Dr. Frieden said, “We have to rethink the way we address Ebola control,” adding that one possibility was that health care workers could contract Ebola after removing and handling protective gear still contaminated with the virus.

Health officials also announced that Dr. Kent Brantly — one of the few survivors of the recent outbreak that has ravaged West Africa and killed nearly 4,000 people there — would be donating his blood plasma to Ms. Pham as he had done for several other patients.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 1:41:24 PM |

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