A Spanish nurse has become the first person to contract ebola outside of West Africa during an outbreak that has killed more than 3,400 people. The woman was part of a medical team at Madrid’s La Paz-Carlos III hospital that treated two missionaries, who died shortly after being repatriated from Africa with the disease. Health Minister Ana Mato said an emergency protocol had been put in place and authorities were working to establish the source of the contagion. “We are working to guarantee the safety of all citizens,” she said. Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, 75, was infected with ebola in Liberia and died at the hospital on 12 August. Another Spanish missionary, Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, was repatriated from Sierra Leone and died at the hospital on 25 September. Both were members of a Roman Catholic group that runs a charity working with ebola victims in Africa. A Spanish health official said 30 medical staff who treated the two priests are being monitored. The infected nurse began to feel ill on 30 September, but did not go to hospital until Sunday complaining of a fever. The assistant nurse, who is married without children, is being treated in isolation at a hospital in a southern Madrid suburb. Health authorities are trying to track down all the people she may have come in contact with since she contracted the disease.
Several police cars and rescue vehicles ringed Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson and the unit was quarantined for two hours following the teenager’s transfer, reports the Miami Herald. ‘It’s important to point out that this patient did not meet the Centers for Disease Control case definition for Ebola, but the test is being conducted out of an abundance of caution, and health officials expect the test to rule out Ebola,’ said Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday night. ‘Florida still does not have any confirmed cases of Ebola, and we hope we never do, but we are taking every preparedness step possible to keep our citizens and our visitors safe.’ A firm diagnosis can take 48 hours, experts say. Authorities haven’t disclosed the patient’s name or said which West African country he and his family were from. Jackson spokesman Edwin O’Dell had said the hospital was prepared to handle the case if it turned out to be Ebola. ‘Jackson has been publicly forthcoming in asserting our confidence and readiness, and that we have established and tested protocols to deal with infectious diseases in general and with Ebola in specific,’ he said. ‘We will do everything to ensure safety and treatment for all of our patients.’ It is almost a week since Thomas Duncan, who had traveled to Dallas from Liberia, became the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with the disease. The Florida Department of Health has requested 30 additional Ebola testing kits from the CDC to ensure that all of Florida’s public hospitals ‘have the ability to test patients who county health officials and the CDC believe need to be tested for Ebola,’ said Scott. The Health Department also requested ‘100 units of additional high-level personal protective equipment to ensure the state is ready to backfill any county whose medical personnel develop a future need for these supplies.’
Obama Signals New Ebola Passenger Screening
Barack Obama has said his administration is working on additional protocols for screening airplane passengers to identify people who might have ebola. The President made the announcement after meeting health and security officials who are involved in attempting to prevent an outbreak of the disease in the US. He told reporters the chance of an outbreak in the US was “extraordinarily low”, but that there was not a large margin for error. The White House is not currently proposing a travel ban for West Africa, epicentre of the outbreak. In a reminder of the risks facing medical professionals, a nurse who treated an ebola patient in Madrid, Spain, became the first person to contract ebola outside of West Africa. Earlier on Monday, an NBC News cameraman who contracted ebola in Liberia became the fifth American to return to the US after contracting the disease.