Health officials say someone who was caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Texas has now tested positive for the deadly virus, the first known person to catch Ebola on American soil.
In a statement released by the Texas Health Resources early Sunday, chief clinical officer Dr. Dan Varga confirmed that a preliminary blood test indicated that a health care worker involved in the treatment of Duncan has been infected with Ebola. Duncan is believed to have been infected in Liberia before flying to the United States. He died last week.
“The care-giver and the family have requested total privacy, so we can’t discuss any further details of the situation,” Varga said.
Here is the full statement released by Varga:
Late Saturday, a preliminary blood test on a care-giver at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas showed positive for Ebola. The healthcare worker had been under the self-monitoring regimen prescribed by the CDC, based on involvement in caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan during his inpatient care that started on September 28.
Individuals being monitored are required to take their temperature twice daily. As a result of that procedure, the care-giver notified the hospital of imminent arrival and was immediately admitted to the hospital in isolation. The entire process, from the patient’s self-monitoring to the admission into isolation, took less than 90 minutes. The patient’s condition is stable. A close contact has also been proactively placed in isolation. The care-giver and the family have requested total privacy, so we can’t discuss any further details of the situation.
We have known that further cases of Ebola are a possibility among those who were in contact with Mr. Duncan before he passed away last week. The system of monitoring, quarantine and isolation was established to protect those who cared for Mr. Duncan as well as the community at large by identifying any potential ebola cases as early as possible and getting those individuals into treatment immediately.
Finally, we have put the ED on “diversion” until further notice because of limitations in staffed capacity — meaning ambulances are not currently bringing patients to our emergency department. While we are on diversion we are also using this time to further expand the margin of safety by triple-checking our full compliance with updated CDC guidelines. We are also continuing to monitor all staff who had some relation to Mr. Duncan’s care even if they are not assumed to be at significant risk of infection.
All of these steps are being taken so the public and our own employees can have complete confidence in the safety and integrity of our facilities and the care we provide.
The patient is a female nurse, CNN reports. She was also wearing the mandated protective gear – a gown, gloves, mask and shield — while assisting in the treatment of Duncan.