The government is telling the nation’s hospitals to “think Ebola.”
Every hospital must know how to diagnose Ebola in people who have been in West Africa and be ready to isolate a suspected case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.
He said the CDC is working to improve protections for hospital workers after a nurse caring for an Ebola patient in Dallas became the first person to become infected with the disease inside the U.S.
“We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control,” Frieden said, “because even a single infection is unacceptable.”
The CDC is scrambling to interview all staff of the Dallas hospital who could have been exposed to the patient, a Liberian man who became sick after traveling to the United States and died at the hospital. Anyone at risk will be monitored, he said.
Before the nurse’s illness, those who cared for that patient while he was in isolation were told to check themselves for fever or signs of illness but weren’t monitored by health officials. The nurse self-reported her fever.
“We need to consider the possibility that there could be additional cases, particularly among the health care workers who cared for the index patient” — the Liberian man — “when he was so ill,” Frieden said.
Ebola patients aren’t contagious until they begin experiencing symptoms, Frieden said. As they get sicker, they become more infectious and the amount of virus in their bodily fluids increases — putting those caring for them at greater risk.
The CDC already was monitoring about 50 people who had contact with the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, before he was hospitalized. None have developed symptoms. They are still within the 21-day incubation period, however.
Frieden said the CDC is doubling down on Ebola training and support for hospitals and health care workers. But they still don’t know exactly how the nurse, whose name was not released, was exposed to the virus despite wearing the recommended protective gear…Read More
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