FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas nurse Nina Pham tested positive for the Ebola virus over the weekend. Pham was one of the medical workers who administered treatment to Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who died from the virus last week. Pham first noticed that she had some of the symptoms on Friday, and her diagnosis was confirmed on Sunday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Sunday morning that one other person was in close contact with the nurse after her symptoms began to show. That person is now known to be an employee at the Fort Worth company Alcon. The company sent a message to all staff members, letting them know that one of their own was in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
According to the emailed note, the Alcon employee was admitted to the hospital on Sunday and is being monitored for Ebola symptoms. However, the man has not shown any signs of being sick. The name of the Alcon worker was not released.
The email also said that, after consulting with state health officials, Alcon is confident that no other employees were ever put at risk.
Meanwhile, the 26-year-old nurse continues to receive treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she works. Her father said that her condition is not getting worse, and she remains in fine spirits with only a little fever.
According to the CDC, a “breach in protocol” might have resulted in Pham being exposed to the Ebola virus while she was removing the protective gear used while treating Duncan. Health officials are now trying to identify both this breach and other health care workers who could have come in contact with Duncan’s bodily fluids.
Pham was wearing a mask, gown, gloves and shield while working with Duncan. But the National Institutes of Health said that hospital staff might not have had enough time to properly train on how to use this equipment before Duncan arrived. “Quite frankly, the training was — the proof of the pudding — was not adequate,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. “We’ve got to make sure that the training is adequate.”
But there are still lingering questions about how Pham might have been exposed to the Ebola virus. Jennifer Joseph was trained by the nurse and is now confused. “She is one of the most meticulous, thorough, effective nurses,” Joseph said. “She taught me infection control, hand hygiene and protocol. I learned so much of that from her.”
Hospital leaders said that they are working on improving precautions and patient care treatment, including a new “buddy system” that requires all workers to supervise each other while putting on and taking off protective gear. The CDC is also considering a product that can kill the Ebola virus, and would be sprayed on a nurse or doctor after they come out of an isolation unit.
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