In the wake of news that a nurse who helped care for an Ebola patient in Dallas tested positive for the virus over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested the possibility of transferring infected patients to one of four U.S. hospitals with special facilities and training for treating highly infectious diseases.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D. said on Sunday's Face the Nation broadcast that the agency would investigate where the breach in medical protocol occurred that exposed the nurse to the virus. She reportedly wore full protective gear when treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the patient who died last week. The Dallas hospital has defended its treatment of Duncan, despite the fact he was initially sent home with antibiotics and wasn't diagnosed until he returned to the hospital days later.
Frieden issued a separate statement to the network's Chief Medical Correspondent Jonathan LaPook, M.D., saying that while all hospitals must be prepared to diagnose possible Ebola patients, it might be "prudent" for the four facilities with specially trained personnel and well-practiced protocols to receive patients first. The four facilities with infectious disease biocontainment units are Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana.
ABC News Medical Editor William Besser, M.D., told WFAA in Dallas on Sunday that he was skeptical about CDC assurances that any American hospital can safely treat Ebola patients.
A quarter of Americans queried in a recent Harris Poll/Healthday poll said they see Ebola as a serious public health threat, with 27 percent saying they would delay or cancel any plans to travel to outbreak areas.
The disease continues to spread in West Africa, with nearly 8,400 confirmed cases as of Oct. 8 and 4,033 deaths, the World Health Organization reported on Friday. Although the outbreak remains contained in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, localized cases have been reported in Nigeria, Senegal, Spain and the U.S. The infection in Spain involves a healthcare worker who was exposed in an outbreak nation, raising further questions about breaks with medical protocol.
A new Arizona State University (ASU) study found that Ebola transmission is "dramatically influenced by how rapidly control measures are put in place," ASU said in an announcement. Researchers analyzed cases in Nigeria, which has had success containing the disease.
"Rapid and forceful control measures are necessary, as is demonstrated by the Nigerian success story," lead author Gerardo Chowell, associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said in the announcement. "This is critically important for countries in the West African region that are not yet affected by the Ebola epidemic, as well as for countries in other regions of the world that risk importation of the disease."