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'Breach of protocol' blamed for Ebola infection of Texas healthcare worker

The health worker was in the lower pool of those at risk and was wearing a protective gown, gloves and a mask.

Workers at a Dallas hospital pose in contamination suits.
Workers at a Dallas hospital pose in contamination suits.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated 20.40pm

A BREACH IN protocol is being blamed for the Ebola infection of a health care worker in a Dallas hospital, according the the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The identity of the worker has not been revealed, but it has been confirmed that they had been part of the team who treated a man who died from the virus.

Thomas Eric Duncan became the first man to die from the virus in the US on Wednesday.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

Fever

The health care worker reported a low grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing, Texas health services said in a statement. It did not further identify the worker nor detail how exposure to the virus occurred.

The statement added: “Health officials have interviewed the patient and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures. People who had contact with the health care worker after symptoms emerged will be monitored based on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus.”

The CDC says all the health care workers that treated Mr Duncan could be at risk.

President Barack Obama has called for immediate steps to be taken to ensure that medical systems  follow the correct protocols.

Speaking at a press conference in Texas, Dr Dan Varga said that the health care worker was not in the high risk pool of health workers being monitored and was in the low risk category.

varga Source: Sky News

Protective clothing 

Dr Varga said he was following full CDC precautions of self-monitoring and recording his temperature twice daily. He confirmed that the health worker was wearing protective clothing when he was looking after Mr Duncan stating that he was wearing a protective gown, gloves, and a mask.

He confirmed that the emergency department at the hospital was closed to any other patients, but said they are continuing to care for the patients in their care.

He said they were satisfied that the CDC’s precautionary measures were enough to protect the public and health care workers.

Meanwhile, the Mayor Mike Rawlings said they had been dealing with the situation since late last night so that they could ensure that the people waking up in Dallas would be safe, which he said they are.

Ebola Source: AP/Press Association Images

He said the decontamination of the health worker’s apartment is due to take place and the area has been sealed off by police. He said that they entire apartment block has been sprayed with a de-contaminant spray, as has the workers’ car, which he drove to the hospital. The car park at the hospital has also been decontaminated with a spray, he said.

He confirmed that there was a pet at the apartment and a plan to “take care” of the pet is in place. Mayor Rawlings said it is not believed that the pet is infected with Ebola.

hhh County Judge Clay Jenkins Source: Sky News

The Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that it is important to remember that this health worker is a person, who deserves privacy. He added that he wanted to stress a very important point about Ebola – in that it cannot be contracted by simply walking past someone on the street and that it can only be contracted from the bodily fluids of someone who is infected.

Jenkins said that this case does not change that “basic premise of science”.

Additional reporting Christina Finn. First published 11.05am

Read: Three more people isolated in Spain over Ebola concerns

Read: JFK airport has started screening passengers for Ebola

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