The top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday said he is “deeply concerned” about the second diagnosis of Ebola in the United States.
The agency received preliminary tests that the healthcare worker, who has not yet been identified, had tested positive for the deadly disease late Saturday evening, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The worker had been caring for Thomas Duncan, who contracted the first reported case of Ebola in the United States, at a hospital in Dallas. Duncan had recently been to Liberia — one of the three West African countries hardest hit by the disease — and helped carry a woman that had been diagnosed with it. He died last week.
The CDC is now monitoring other workers at the hospital, Frieden said.
“Our team is intensively working with the hospital on both understanding what happened and to find other healthcare workers who may be at risk and also making sure that protocols are followed in the care of this individual,” he said.
Reports indicated that the new case had been at a “low risk” for contracting Ebola, which is spread through contact with bodily fluids, and had followed CDC protocols for caring for the diseased Duncan.
However, Frieden said on Sunday that “it’s hard” avoid all risk when caring for Ebola patients and “even a single breach can result in contamination.”
Frieden also pushed back at Schieffer’s claims that health authorities are treating information surrounding the new patient “as if they were dealing with top secret information,” mentioning that the agency would not even confirm whether it is a man or a woman.
“You know we really try to protect individual patient confidentiality,” he said. “So sometimes that may seem excessive but if you were sick or a family member was sick, you'd really want the information coming from information or family.”
Since the outbreak first began in March, Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people, primarily in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.