A second Dallas health care worker who cared for the first Ebola patient in the country has tested positive for the virus, the Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.
The patient is the second person to contract Ebola within the United States. The worker, who has not yet been named, was isolated within 90 minutes after initially recording a fever. The CDC is doing final testing to confirm the diagnosis.
“As we have said before, because of our ongoing investigation, it is not unexpected that there would be additional exposures,” the CDC said in a statement Wednesday. “An additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimize hte risk to health care workers and the patient.” (RELATED: Burwell: Ebola Will Get Worse In The US)
The latest Ebola patient was one of 76 health care workers being monitored for signs of Ebola after treating the first U.S. patient, Thomas Duncan, at Texas Presbyterian Hospital, or handling his blood samples.
The CDC said in a statement Wednesday that experts are interviewing the new patient to find any potential contacts for further monitoring. CBS Dallas reports that crews have been decontaminating common areas around the woman’s apartment complex and will begin decontaminating her vehicle and apartment Wednesday afternoon.
The hospital first sent Duncan home with a possible diagnosis of malaria, before Duncan returned and was exposed to more health care workers before doctors realized he was infected with Ebola. Duncan’s travel history to Liberia, which is facing the worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa, was not related from nurses to treating physicians.
National Nurses United, the country’s largest nursing union, said late Tuesday that Duncan was left in the emergency room, outside of isolation, for hours and that even after he was diagnosed with Ebola, staff treated him for days without full protective gear. The CDC sent many workers to Dallas to monitor the outbreak, but did not immediate send in a complete team of infection control experts.
Frieden admitted Tuesday that had the CDC acted more quickly and thoroughly after Duncan’s diagnosis, the first health care worker to be infected, Nina Pham, may not have been affected. The CDC will now be sending in Ebola response teams to all hospitals with confirmed Ebola patients within hours of diagnosis. (RELATED: CDC: Sure Wish We’d Have Gone In Right After The First Ebola Diagnosis)
“We could’ve sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed,” Frieden said Tuesday. “That might have prevented this infection.”
“Whatever happened there [in Dallas], regardless of the reason, is not acceptable. It shouldn’t have happened,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, added on MSNBC Wednesday.
Pham is in treatment and reportedly “doing well.” The CDC continues to monitor 48 people who may have had contact with Duncan, 76 health care workers who may have treated Duncan, and one person who had contact with Pham.