One of the healthcare workers who had extensive contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for the virus. She and her family have asked for privacy so her name has not been released. According to the Dallas Morning News her infection with the virus is a result of a “breach of protocol” although they are not sure of the specifics of that breach at this time. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is now diverting all ambulances to other hospitals [ETA: except for patients exhibiting signs of Ebola] because of staffing issues. All of the staff who had contact with Mr. Duncan were self monitoring, but now that one of them has contracted the virus, they will be monitored twice daily by the CDC. The hospital states that all patients currently receiving care at the hospital will still receive excellent care.
The nurse lived alone save for a pet so there doesn’t seem to be another large group of contacts that will have to be monitored. As of now authorities are saying there is only one other person who may have had contact while she was showing symptoms. The pet is still in the apartment, but plans are being made for its care. Her apartment will also be cleaned by a hazmat team. The City of Dallas has been knocking on doors, answering questions and leaving printed materials in the neighborhood of the infected nurse.
Of course the media has swarmed the neighborhood as well. Helicopters are now buzzing overhead taking lots of footage of new roofs and backyards. I feel sorry for the people who live in the neighborhood having their weekend disrupted by news trucks, vans, photographers and reporters as well as the helicopters. Although I’m sure some will be happy to give their two cents to the cameras.
During the press conference the doctor stated that they were prepared for this eventuality and that it wasn’t a shock that there was another case. They are actively working toward finding the specific breach in protocol to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The thing to remember is that these are human beings caring for other human beings and being human they get tired or make mistakes. It is a life or death mistake in the case of Ebola, but we must have compassion for them. These are the heroes who go in and take care of the ill, even with the risks, while the rest of us go about our lives.
The people under quarantine who had contact with the late Mr. Duncan still have 10 days remaining until they can be sure they will not contract Ebola. So far none of them are symptomatic. There is now another 21 day window for the person who had contact with this nurse and if there were any other protocol breaches it is possible that other healthcare workers could become infected. This isn’t over yet, but I still have faith in the city of Dallas, the CDC and our brave and dedicated healthcare workers to prevent a larger outbreak.