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article imageSecond U.S. Ebola case: Texas health worker tests positive

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 12, 2014 in World
Dallas - Texas state health officials said in a statement Sunday that a health worker who helped to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person ever diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., has tested positive for the Ebola virus in a preliminary test.
Officials said the new patient, a health care worker at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, was isolated and referred for testing conducted at the state public health laboratory in Austin, after reporting a low-grade fever Friday night. The test result came in Saturday.
The Texas Department of State Health Service said in a statement: "Confirmatory testing will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta."
If, as expected, the CDC confirms the infection, the case will be the second ever diagnosed in the US and the first known case of transmission of the deadly illness in the country.
Teresa Romero Ramos, a Spanish nurse, become the first case of Ebola infection outside Africa after treating two Ebola virus-infected Spanish priests flown into Spain from Liberia last month.
In a statement Sunday morning, David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said, "We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility. We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread."
Health officials are now trying to identify and monitor people who might have been exposed to infection with the deadly virus through contact with the health worker. Potential contacts will be isolated as soon as they show symptoms of the illness.
The Ebola epidemic continues to rage in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. According to the latest estimates by the World Health Organization, more than 8,000 people have contracted the virus this year alone and over 4,000 have died.
According to CDC, the symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, include, fever, body aches and pains, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding from different parts of the body. Infection could incubate for 21 days before first symptoms arise.
The illness has so far taken a heavy toll on health care providers. WHO estimates that over 400 health workers have been infected with the virus while performing their duties as care providers. About half have died.
Cases of health workers infected with the virus despite precautions have led to widespread but unsubstantiated speculation that the virus is being transmitted by means other than physical contact with infectious body fluids and contaminated surfaces.
The Associated Press reports that Daniel Varga, with the Texas Health Resources, told reporters at a news briefing Sunday that the Texas health worker was in full protective gear while providing care for Duncan. The worker helped in the treatment of Duncan after he was diagnosed with Ebola.
Health workers in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Spain have protested and threatened strike over the high incidence of infection among professional care providers, accusing the authorities of not providing sufficient protective gear and safe work conditions.
But the head of the CDC, Dr Tom Frieden, said that infection of the Texas health worker indicated a breach of safety protocol. He told CBS, "We’re deeply concerned about this new development. I think the fact that we don’t know of a breach in protocol is concerning because clearly there was a breach in protocol. We have the ability to prevent the spread of Ebola by caring safely for patients."
Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the US, arrived in the country from Liberia on Sept. 20. He showed no signs of illness on arrival. He fell ill four days later and reported at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He was treated with antibiotics and sent back home despite telling the nurse on duty that he had just arrived from Liberia.
But his illness took a turn for the worse, forcing him to return to the hospital. He finally tested positive for the Ebola virus. He died in Dallas on Wednesday, becoming the first person to die of the illness in the US.
His body was incinerated Friday, according to federal guidelines.
Available medical records have raised questions about the response of the hospital when Duncan first reported illness. Questions are being raised why he was allowed to return home despite admitting that he just returned from Liberia.
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