CDC to deploy rapid-response teams to hospitals with confirmed Ebola cases; second Texas nurse infected

Oct. 15, 2014

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, announced yesterday that the agency will rush teams of infectious disease specialists to aid hospitals that report confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease. “We will put a team on the ground within hours with some of the world’s leading experts in how to take care of and protect healthcare workers from Ebola infection,” he said. In the light of the fact that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse Nina Pham contracted the virus when treating deceased Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan at the Dallas facility early this month, Frieden acknowledged that the CDC had erred in not taking such action from the start:”I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed. We could have sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from Day One about how this should be managed.”

Events underscored Frieden’s words a few hours later, when officials from the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that a second healthcare worker who treated Duncan has tested positive for Ebola. The positive test, determined at a state laboratory in Austin, has been sent to the CDC labs in Atlanta for confirmation, which should be forthcoming today. The second individual has been isolated, and contact tracing is underway. Hazardous material teams are decontaminating her living quarters.

Meanwhile, Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union in the United States, is claiming that some of the Texas nurses are privately reporting that, in fact, appropriate precautions were not taken when Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The union says that nurses had inadequate personal protective equipment, and that there was “confusion and frequently changing policies and protocols.” There also have been reports that Duncan’s lab samples were sent through the hospital’s pneumatic tube system, and that Duncan was not immediately isolated from other patients. This is hearsay; LABline reports it as such. Learn more from a New York Times article.

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