The case of the Dallas nurse who also contracted the Ebola virus while working with the Liberian patient who developed the illness after entering the U.S. shows that health officials need to rethink how to properly address the infection and control a possible outbreak. The virus is clearly spreading beyond West Africa, top U.S. heath officials said in a Monday statement.
According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, health authorities still need to determine how the nurse became infected while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. She had been wearing complete protective equipment, so it seems that something is escaping the investigators’ attention.
Duncan died last week after spending 11 days in the hospital. The nurse is the first U.S. citizen to contract the virus on Untied States soil, and this event raises serious concern about containing the hemorrhagic fever.
“We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control. Even a single infection is unacceptable,”
Frieden told reporters, while assuring them that the nurse’s condition was clinically stable and that all contacts or health workers involved in Duncan’s case were being monitored.
“The care of Ebola is hard. We’re working to make it safer and easier.”
In the same statement, Frieden apologized for previous remarks he had made on Sunday, which suggested that the nurse had been responsible for a breach in protocols that could have exposed her to the virus. Healthcare experts warned that his comments failed to point out deep gaps in training hospital staff to correctly deal with Ebola.
“I’m sorry if that was the impression given,”
the CDC director said. He assured the public that the agency would take further steps to ensure that the awareness of Ebola at U.S. hospitals is increased and to also provide materials and support necessary for staff training.
President Obama is also scheduled to meet with members of his administration in order to discuss the nation’s healthcare system and its readiness to care for possible patients.
In the meantime, in Louisiana, law enforcement officials are attempting to file temporary restraining orders in order to prevent that the personal items of Duncan be buried in a local landfill (despite them being incinerated).
“There are too many unknowns at this point, and it is absurd to transport potentially hazardous Ebola waste across state lines,”
Louisiana Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell said, after it was suggested that Duncan’s belongings, which had been taken to Port Arthur, Texas, be brought to a hazardous landfill in Louisiana.