US Nurse Infected With Ebola May Have Broke Protocol

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Though the Ebola virus is ravaging West Africa with over 4,000 dead, it has so far been limited to two infections and one fatality in the US. But the second person infected after now-deceased Thomas Eric Duncan is raising concerns – a nurse treating Duncan. The nurse was supposed to be safe from the disease according to medical guidelines and the assumed nature of the disease – that only coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone infected showing symptoms can lead to infection.

Currently the CDC believes the nature of Ebola has not evolved into a different form but rather that the nurse treating Duncan broke protocol somehow. Believe it or not, that is the better scenario because it means the disease has not changed and the guidelines for handling Ebola patients still work and can thus be utilized going forward to prevent the spread of the disease.

But assuming that more optimal scenario is true still means we have a problem – medical professionals are apparently having difficulty handling the Ebola virus and could get infected. A worry that is now plaguing the CDC.

Federal health officials in the US admitted on Sunday they were deeply concerned by a “breach in protocol” after it was revealed that a healthcare worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas had become the second person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US. Four days after Duncan died in an isolation unit, after arriving in Dallas last month from Liberia, secondary tests confirmed that a female employee at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital has the virus, in the first case of Ebola transmission in the US and the second outside Africa…

Hospital officials said the employee had worn full protective clothing during all contact with Duncan. Dr Tom Frieden, the CDC director, warned in a media briefing on Sunday that other hospital staff could also have been exposed to the virus and may show symptoms in the coming days.

So the virus is still relatively difficult to transmit but US health workers do not know how to follow the protocols when dealing with those able to transmit? Not exactly reassuring.

One of the proposed solutions by the CDC is to bypass hospitals altogether and setup special separate units run by those trained to handle Ebola to handle future US patients. The hope being that protocols will be more likely to be followed and thus infections of health workers are more likely not to occur. Most US health workers have no experience or substantive training as to how to deal with the Ebola virus which may explain how the nurse got infected.

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