Expert: US Ebola transmission 'distressing'

News early Sunday that an Ebola patient in Dallas transmitted the deadly virus to a healthcare worker is “distressing,” an infectious diseases expert said.

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“This is a distressing circumstance,” Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Hospital, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Schaffner said it was “good news” that the worker was already being monitored and self-reported.

The contact between the healthcare worker and Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient in the U.S. who died last week, was not described in detail. The healthcare worker was following CDC precautions and was not part of a high-risk pool, however, officials said. Those precautions included a gown, gloves, mask and a face shield.

“Let’s all recognize that the most hazardous time for worker is when they’re taking the gear off,” Schaffner said, adding that workers must follow a “careful sequence” in a “deliberative fashion” so they don’t contaminate themselves.

“I’m really concerned about how the material was taken off when she was off duty,” he said. “That’s how the contamination has occurred in other healthcare settings.”

“My concern is reinforced,” he added.

Dallas officials also said there was a pet reported in the patient’s apartment, which will be decontaminated later Sunday.

“I’m not really concerned about this pet,” he said, adding he was confident the pet would be monitored and cared for.