Texas: 2nd health care worker tests positive for Ebola

October 15, 2014, 11:19 AM UTC
Liberia Races To Expand Ebola Treatment Facilities
MONROVIA, LIBERIA - OCTOBER 02: A health worker watches as a burial team collects Ebola victims from a Ministry of Health treatment center for cremation on October 2, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. Eight Liberian Red Cross burial teams under contract with the country's Ministry of Health collect the bodies of Ebola victims each day in the capital. More than 3,200 people have died in West Africa due to the epidemic. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Photograph by John Moore — Getty Images

A second health care worker in Texas has tested positive for Ebola, the Associated Press reports, citing a statement from the Texas health department.

The news is further evidence of the failure of western health systems to completely isolate and stop the virus despite having far greater resources at their disposal than the three west African countries that have been ravaged by it in the last three months.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been roiled by allegations that it bungled setting appropriate safety protocols for treating a Liberian man ill with Ebola at a Dallas hospital, after a nurse who attended the patient contracted the virus last week. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, died from the disease he contacted in Liberia.

The nurses’ union had on Tuesday released a harsh statement alleging “confusion and frequently changing policies and protocols” at the hospital where the nurse, Nina Pham, 26, contracted the illness, the New York Times reports.

The CDC has acknowledged it did not move fast enough to set protocols at the Dallas hospital when the virus was first reported there, and it has pledged to better its response in the event of future cases.

In Spain, too, hospital staff have protested that they weren’t given clear enough instructions and training on how to deal with Ebola patients, after a nurse at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid contracted the virus from a patient who had been evacuated from Africa.

The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that the outbreak is set to get to get much worse before the international response to it turns the tide. Dr. Bruce Aylward, who heads the U.N. agency’s operational response to the crisis, said the epidemic could reach a peak of 10,000 new cases a week by early December. That’s more than the whole number of cases officially confirmed so far.

According to the WHO, nearly 4,500 of the 8,914 confirmed cases have ended fatally. Officials warn that the actual number of cases is likely to be considerably higher than the official figures.

Dr. Aylward told a briefing Tuesday that “at best” 30% of those infected are surviving so far.

“We’re finding 70 per cent mortality consistently across the three countries,” he said.

He said that the incidence of new cases is still rising in the capitals of the three countries affected–Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea–and noted that concern that the virus appeared to be spreading towards the Ivory Coast.