The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday launched a new strategy to stop the spread of Ebola to healthcare workers in the wake of news that a second clinician who cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan before he died has come down with the deadly virus.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., announced during a press conference that the agency will send Ebola response teams within hours of a confirmed case to any hospital in the United States, Fox News reported.
"I wish we put teams like this on the ground when the first patient was diagnosed," said Frieden, referring to Duncan, the first person in the country diagnosed with Ebola, who may have contaminated many others because he was initially misdiagnosed at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and sent home with antibiotics. Duncan died last week. "We will do it from this day forward anywhere in the U.S."
Healthcare workers across the country are worried about caring for potential Ebola patients in the wake of news that two healthcare workers who tended to Duncan while he was hospitalized have come down with the illness. Both are in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian although ABC News reports that the second healthcare worker will be transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
The CDC has assigned a site manager to oversee infection control at the Dallas hospital to ensure that staff properly put on and remove personal protective equipment. The agency will also limit the number of healthcare staff who take care of an infected patient, according to Fox News. It is also providing more training so healthcare workers know how to diagnose Ebola.
"Every doctor, nurse, staff person needs to ask where have you been in the past month, past 21 days, have you been to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea," he told reporters.
Frieden also acknowledged that the CDC was too slow to respond to the first case of Ebola and should have had a more robust team at the Dallas hospital after confirmation that Duncan had the virus.
Now that a second healthcare worker is ill with the virus, public health authorities are monitoring 75 people who had contact with Duncan during his 11-day hospital stay, according to ABC News.
The Los Angeles Times is also reporting that coworkers of the Dallas healthcare workers claim staff worked for days without proper protective gear and that the hospital's Ebola protocols and procedures were unclear and inadequate, leaving workers prone to contamination. The new accusations were made in a statement by National Nurses United on behalf of unidentified registered nurses. The claims contradict previous reports by the CDC and the hospital that the organization followed infection control guidelines and workers did wear protective gear, including a gown, gloves, mask and face shield.
Potentially complicating matters, the second worker flew the day before her symptoms manifested, according to the Associated Press.
The Ebola outbreak is the worst in nearly 40 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which now reports that the virus has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The WHO claims those countries could see 10,000 cases of Ebola a week by the end of the year, CNN reports.
To learn more:
- read the Fox News coverage
- here's the ABC News story
- check out the Los Angeles Times piece
- here are the statistics from WHO
- read the CNN story
- read the AP article via the Huffington Post
- here's the second ABC News story