Texas Health Worker Becomes 1st Person to Contract Ebola in U.S.

A Texas health worker has contracted Ebola after treating a Liberian who died of the virus in Dallas last week.

A healthcare employee has contracted the deadly virus after treating a Liberian who died of Ebola in Dallas last week, raising doubts on whether U.S. can stop the spread of the disease.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where a patient with Ebola appeared on Sunday, has already faced criticism for its management of the dangerous disease.

The infected health worker, whose name wasn’t revealed, is the first person to contract the virus in the U.S. She had close and frequent contact during the 11-day treatment of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on Wednesday, health officials confirmed.

The current Ebola outbreak is the worst one on record and it has already claimed lives of more than 4,000 people, mostly in West Africa’s Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Duncan, a Liberian, was exposed to Ebola in his home country and developed the disease while visiting the United States.

“The new case prompted President Barack Obama to order federal authorities to take additional steps to ensure the American medical system is prepared to follow correct protocols in dealing with Ebola, the White House said on Sunda,” Reuters reports.

It’s still unknown how the health worker was infected, but the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed to reporters that it indicated a professional lapse that may have caused other health workers at the hospital to be infected with Ebola as well.

“We don’t know what occurred in the care of the index patient, the original patient, in Dallas, but at some point there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection,” CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden told a news conference.

Hospital officials said the worker had been wearing CDC-recommended protective gear during treatment, including gowns, gloves, masks and shields.

“We are evaluating other potential healthcare worker exposures because if this individual was exposed, which they were, it is possible that other individuals were exposed,” Frieden said.

Tests by the CDC confirmed the patient had been infected with Ebola.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, there a yellow dangerous material drum appeared on the lawn of the brick apartment where the Texas health worker lived as well as information pamphlets about the Ebola virus were stuffed in the doors in the surrounding blocks of the apartment.

Neighbor Cliff Lawson, 57, said he was woken at 6 a.m. by two Dallas police officers who urged him to “don’t panic.” “I went back to bed after that. There’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t wrap your house in bubble wrap,” Lawson said.

A union for registered nurses said her case in Dallas showed that not enough is being done to educate health workers on how to manage patients who show signs of infection.

“Handing out a piece of paper with a link to the Centers for Disease Control, or telling nurses just to look at the CDC website – as we have heard some hospitals are doing – is not preparedness,” said Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and senior official with National Nurses United.

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