Questions are being raised about preparedness of Western nations for potential Ebola outbreak

Oct. 8, 2014

In the wake of the news that a nursing assistant in Madrid, Spain, contracted the Ebola virus through contact with an infected patient, concerns are growing in Europe that hospital staff have not received sufficient guidance and training to deal with possible future cases. The nurse was part of the team that treated a Spanish priest who became infected in Sierra Leone and died in Spain in August. Reportedly, she wore a hazmat suit each time she had contact with the patient, and there are no records that indicate how the exposure might have happened. Some healthcare workers in Spain are complaining that they have not been trained sufficiently and lack sufficient equipment to follow recommended procedures. The issue is quickly becoming politicized in Spain; opposition parties are calling for the resignation of the nation’s health minister, and representatives of the European Union are demanding answers. In the meantime four people are under quarantine in the Madrid hospital where the nurse was infected.

The death this morning of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, was announced by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas “with profound regret and heartfelt disappointment.”  Of necessity, attention is turning to the handling of his remains according to strict guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In other Ebola-related developments, the CDC may soon announce enhanced passenger screening measures on some international flights, perhaps to include temperature monitoring. In the meantime, in hospitals across the nation, healthcare workers are putting in place precautionary measures, including review of triage procedures, the creation of isolation units, and intensive staff education. Read the latest on Ebola from the CDC site.

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