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.