CDC urges all US hospitals to 'think Ebola'

2014-10-13 22:00
(Jessica McGowan, AFP)

(Jessica McGowan, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Every US hospital must know how to diagnose Ebola in people who have been in West Africa and be ready to isolate a suspected case, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday.

Tom Frieden 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 US.

"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 travelling 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 hospitalised. 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.

On Sunday, Frieden said she apparently became infected through some breach in the protocol for caring for Ebola patients. On Monday, Frieden offered an apology to health care workers who complained that it sounded like he was blaming the nurse instead of questioning whether the protocols and training she received were sufficient.

"I feel awful that a hospital worker became infected taking care of an Ebola patient," Frieden said.

Frieden said CDC workers were at the Dallas hospital helping to make safety improvements as the staff member is treated.

Hospital workers across the country are the front line against Ebola, he said.

"The single most important thing for every hospital to know is taking a history of travel," Frieden said. He said people who have been to Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea within the last 21 days and are exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms should immediately be placed in isolation.

Read more on:    us  |  ebola  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.