Ebola:US nurses demand protective equipment

2014-10-13 06:20
Police stand guard outside a Texas  hospital worker's home. (Roger Steinman, AP)

Police stand guard outside a Texas hospital worker's home. (Roger Steinman, AP)

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Washington - A Texas health care worker has become the first person to contract Ebola on American soil, authorities confirmed on Sunday, blaming a safety breach for the spread of the deadly disease.

The new Ebola patient, the second person infected outside Africa and the second diagnosed in the US, had treated a man at a Dallas hospital who died of Ebola last week.

The infection deals a blow to global efforts to stem the epidemic, which has already claimed more than 4 000 lives, most of them in the hard-hit West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"This development is understandably disturbing news for the patient, the patient's family and colleagues and the greater Dallas community," the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

But the CDC insisted that any further spread into the community surrounding the hospital "can be prevented with proper public health measures".

Earlier, the agency's chief Thomas Frieden said it was clear that "at some point there was a breach in protocol and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection".

The CDC has launched an investigation and is hunting for more medical care workers who may have been exposed to the dangerous virus.

US President Barack Obama said that federal authorities should take "immediate additional steps" to make sure hospitals were ready to follow protocols designed for Ebola patients.

National Nurses United, the largest US organisation of nurses, is now demanding protective equipment, including hazmat suits, and special training on how to treat Ebola.

"The time to act is long overdue," said executive director RoseAnn DeMoro.

Meanwhile in hardest-hit Liberia, health care workers plan to go on strike Monday to demand hazard pay for treating patients infected with the deadly disease.

In Liberia alone, 95 health care providers have died from the tropical fever, out of 201 infected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

'Extensive contact'

The unidentified female caregiver at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas tested positive for Ebola on Saturday in a preliminary test and is currently in the hospital, in isolation and in stable condition.

"This is not news that should bring about panic," cautioned Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

But Dan Varga, the chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, said the woman "was following full CDC precautions" - protective gear that would have included a mask, gown and gloves.

Frieden said the woman had "extensive contact" with Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was diagnosed with Ebola in the United States last month and died in Texas on Wednesday.

Frieden warned that other health care workers may have been exposed.

Duncan was believed to have been infected before he left Liberia and boarded a plane to visit family in Texas.

Read more on:    who  |  barack obama  |  us  |  ebola

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