Dallas Healthcare Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

Transmission electron micrograph of the Ebola virus
Transmission electron micrograph of the Ebola virus
Centers for Disease Control

According to reports from multiple news outlets and the Centers for Disease Control, a healthcare worker -- reportedly a nurse -- who was in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for the Ebola virus. The test was performed by the Texas Department of State Health Services and is being confirmed by the CDC

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has confirmed that the nurse was in contact with Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, during his second visit to the hospital. Presbyterian declined say how the nurse might have contracted the virus because of privacy concerns, but CDC director Thomas Frieden says there was clearly a "breach in protocol."

Neighbors within a four-block radius of the nurse's home -- an apartment complex on the 3700 block of Marquita Avenue -- received reverse 911 calls and CDC literature about Ebola. Dallas police are standing guard to keep people away from the home.

The full statement about the positive test from the CDC:

Texas Reports Positive Test for Ebola in a Health Care Worker

CDC to do confirmation testing today

A healthcare worker at Texas Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the index patient has tested positive for Ebola according to preliminary tests by the Texas Department of State Health Services' laboratory. The patient was isolated after the initial report of a fever and remains so now. Confirmation testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's laboratory will be done today.

On Friday October 10, a healthcare worker at Texas Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the index patient reported a low grade fever and was referred for testing. The health care worker had been self-monitoring for fever and symptoms.

The hospital and patient were notified of the preliminary positive result. In addition, CDC has interviewed the patient to identify any contacts or potential exposures in the community.

This is understandably disturbing news for the patient, the patient's family and colleagues and the greater Dallas community. The CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services remain confident that wider spread in the community can be prevented with proper public health measures including ongoing contact tracing, health monitoring among those known to have been in contact with the index patient and immediate isolations if symptoms develop.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it could be from 2 to 21 days) so CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious during the incubation period, meaning before symptoms such as fever develop.

CDC tests results will be shared when confirmatory tests are done, following appropriate patient notification.

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Update 10:28 a.m.: Frieden has confirmed that the worker was not one of the 48 people being monitored for close contact with Duncan. She was self-monitoring and sought treatment when she developed a low-grade fever. Texas Health Commissioner David Lakey says that the state and CDC are now trying to determine how many additional people should be monitored.

Update 11:46 a.m.: Presbyterian officials say that the time from the nurse's discovering she had a fever to her being placed in isolation was less than 90 minutes. One "close contact" of the nurse has also been placed in isolation.

Update 7:23 p.m.: The CDC confirmed the nurse's positive test Sunday afternoon. Her apartment building has been blocked off with police tape. The same cleaning company that handled the decontamination and cleaning of Duncan's apartment is cleaning and removing hazardous materials from the health care worker's apartment.

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