On the back of the third American Ebola case the last 24 hours has seen an astounding number of suspected cases with all of them turning up false. It seems that fear has gripped the Western world as the possibility of an outbreak in developed countries increases. Here are the highlights of the day:
- Amber Vinson was transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta yesterday touching down at 7:45 US-ET. She contracted the virus after treating index patient Thomas Duncan. She traveled from Cleveland with a low-grade fever. She had contacted the CDC to report that she had a slight fever and was told that it would be safe for her to travel. Further scandal erupted as she was escorted onto the plane. All escorts were in hazmat suits, except one person. He got close to her, disposed of linens and got onto the plane with no protective gear. He was carrying a clipboard and hence has been dubbed ‘clipboard man’ by social media. Emory University Hospital is considered to have a better treatment track record than Texas Health Presbyterian. No infections have occurred after previous treatment of Ebola patients at the Atlanta hospital. Amber was first accused of violating protocol by boarding a commercial flight.
- Spain has now activated all Ebola protocols on an Air France flight which landed at Barajas International Airport in Madrid carrying a Nigerian man who began shaking vigorously on the flight. There were 163 people on board the flight. The plane will be disinfected.
- Fox News is reporting that the CDC has considered adding the names of Ebola contacts to the no fly list. This comes in response to the CDC giving the all clear to a nurse to fly when she had a fever.
- A Danish Doctors without Borders employee who was hospitalized in Denmark today has tested negative. Tests will be redone in 24 hours as a precaution.
- It is reported by the NY Post that 911 dispatchers in New York must use the letters F and T together F/T to indicate Fever and Travel instead of the word Ebola. Dispatchers also tell units to use Universal Precautions. Given the presence of this story in the media, that is likely to change.
- As fear and panic about Ebola spreads, one woman has decided to take matters into her own hands. She appeared in the waiting room at Washington-Dulles Airport, wearing her own partial hazmat suit. A pack of twelve Dupont Tychem 127 Polycoated Tyvek Hazmat suits will set you back US $ 324.99 on Ebay.
- And finally, CNSnews.com is reporting that Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC said, during a telephone press briefing on Wednesday, that one cannot get Ebola from sitting next to someone on a bus, but people infected with Ebola should avoid public transport because they might infect someone else.
A second health care worker has reportedly been isolated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Initial testing has been positive for Ebola and the samples will be verified with the CDC in the coming hours. A press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services confirms that the worker developed a mild fever on Tuesday.
Texas state officials have confirmed that the health care worker was involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan. The CDC has been vocally concerned about the infection risk for health care workers in the USA. In the worst affected West African countries as many as 400 health care workers have been classified as suspected or confirmed cases in the last year.
The Nigerian outbreak generated at least 19 cases from a single index patient most of which have been health care workers. The first health care worker infected in the USA has been reported as doing well after receiving a plasma donation from the blood of Ebola survivor Doctor Kent Brantly. Blood transfusions are only possible where there is a plasma match but provide increased survival rates by transferring antibodies to the receiver.
A scathing report in the LA Times earlier in the week pointed to a significant lack of infection controls in the hospital raising concerns that several additional cases are on the horizon. The report suggested that nurses and doctors were not sufficiently trained and may have lacked appropriate equipment.
The CDC was criticized by the general public when it blamed the first health care worker infection on “protocol breach” with many outspoken responses pointing the finger of blame towards the CDC for a lack of action and proper training. The slow CDC response to the first case and apparent lack of preparedness have been broadly criticized.
A health care worker has tested positive for Ebola according to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Thomas Duncan the first American Ebola case was treated. Blood samples have been sent to the CDC for final confirmation. According to reports the nurse showed symptoms of a fever on Friday evening with the initial test results received late Saturday.
No detail or information has been provided as yet however speculation is rife that this is likely one of the health care workers that came into contact with Duncan on his first visit to the hospital when he was sent home. There is a low probability that an infection would have occurred once the hospital knew they were dealing with Ebola. Health care workers have been infected at an alarming frequency throughout the Ebola outbreak.
Contact tracing has already begun following a patient interview by health officials and monitoring off any suspected contacts generated from this case will likely begin immediately. The patient was admitted and isolated shortly after exhibiting the initial symptoms which should minimize the potential time the virus has to spread.
False positive tests are a possibility and the case will only be confirmed as official once the CDC confirms them with a second test result.
UPDATE: The worker treated Duncan on his second visit to the hospital and was following all guideline precautions including PPE.
UPDATE: President Obama has requested an urgent investigation into the case.
UPDATE: The CDC has confirmed the test results officially
Here is a round-up of today’s news:
- A patient is suspected of having Ebola in Brazil. The 47 year old man who arrived from Guinea on the 19th of September 2014 is currently in the city of Cascavel. His identity is unknown but authorities said he will be moved to a hospital in Rio de Janeiro and placed in isolation for observation and treatment. Health Officials are, as a precaution, trying to find all possible contacts.
- The Australian woman who was placed in isolation in a hospital in Cairns yesterday has tested negative for Ebola. Sue Kovack had returned from volunteering for the Red Cross in Sierra Leone. Hospital Officials said she would remain under observation for another 24 hours and follow-up tests would be done.
- Two million voters who were meant to go to the polls next Tuesday to elect Liberia’s upper chamber have been told that elections have been suspended. Officials cite lack of polling staff, delay in necessary materials due to reduced flights, concerns about voter turnout and general health concerns related to the gathering of people in light of the Ebola Outbreak.
- Staying in Liberia, one of the driver’s to the country’s Chief Justice has been placed in isolation after his wife passed away from what is suspected to be Ebola. The driver has allegedly not had any contact with the Justice for at least two weeks.
- The Dallas Deputy who was placed in isolation after displaying symptoms similar to that of Ebola has been discharged from hospital. He had entered the apartment where index patient Thomas Eric Duncan had been living in order to obtain a quarantine order. He tested negative and has shown significant improvement in his health.
- Temperature gauges and thermal cameras installed at Cairo’s Airport have proven to be defective. The Country’s Health Minister ordered an immediate investigation. Egypt is one of the world’s largest tourist destinations and is currently welcoming home many citizens who are returning from the Hajj pilgrimage.
- The Economic Impact of Ebola has been largely forgotten in the fight against the epidemic. Countries that are heavily affected have lost significant parts of their economy due to a restless population, decline in transport and cost of treatment. In response to this the International Monetary Fund has loosened restrictions on borrowing. The IMF reiterated calls for humanitarian aid to assists countries most affected.
- Medicins Sans Frontieres reported that The Donka Ebola treatment center in Conakry, Guinea has been pushed to the limit due to an increase in cases. The treatment facility is believed to have admitted 22 patients in one day. The fears are mounting that if the upward trend continues the center might be forced to turn people away. There was also a significant increase in the amount of children admitted.
- Spokesperson for the North-West Department of Health in South Africa has said the 72 year old man suspected of having Ebola could not have the disease based on a Health Record. He said the casualty ward which was quarantined yesterday has returned to normal. The man was transferred to Tshepong Hospital Complex which is listed as an Ebola referral Hospital but later passed away from what is claimed to be a bacterial infection. Tests ruled out HIV, Congo Fever and Malaria. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi later confirmed that there was no Ebola in South Africa but that the country was ready should that become a reality.
- Zimbabweans were concerned after reports surfaced claiming a hospital was shut down in Harare for a suspected Ebola case. The woman turned out to have Malaria and things have since returned to normal.
- A satirical piece written by the site NewsNerd claiming a vaccine that only worked on white skin was available has been taken seriously by many commentators. Despite the disclaimer distinctly saying it was false, many still took the opportunity to invoke racially inflammatory sentiments.
- A man caused a ruckus when he sneezed on a plane and yelled out ‘I have Ebola’. He also claimed that he had recently been to Africa. It later emerged, upon isolation and testing, that he had never been to Africa, and tests confirmed he did not have the virus.
Less than 24 hours after a false alarm in Paris a suspected case has been upgraded to “Probable” in the French Capital. French Media are reporting that a woman who has a travel history including Liberia has been isolated on strong suspicion of an Ebola infection. It is understood that the woman is not a French national or a health worker. Reports indicate a probability that Ebola will be confirmed once the test results are available despite initial testing being negative for the hemorrhagic fever causing virus. Results of the second test are expected during the course of Friday evening.
Yesterday saw France isolating a public building for nearly two hours when an African man showed Ebola-like symptoms. After investigation the case was deemed a false alarm and the building was released from isolation. Recent outbreaks in the USA and Spain have raised awareness globally resulting in dozens of cautionary isolations and testing around the world.
France is considered to have one of the highest risks for Ebola ‘importation’ according to statistical models developed in recent weeks. The most recent mathematical models indicated a 75% chance that Ebola will reach France before the end of October 2014. The two suspected cases have both appeared in Paris. An Ebola outbreak in a major city center is considered a worst case scenario by many medical experts.
UPDATE: It is understood that the woman is an American.
UPDATE: The French Health Ministry has announced that future reports will only be made if an Ebola case is positive.