Second Texas healthcare worker tests positive for Ebola

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Another healthcare worker at a Dallas hospital who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola last week, has tested positive for the deadly virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said early Tuesday.

“The patient was isolated after an initial report of a fever and remains so now. Confirmation testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s laboratory is being done,” the CDC said in a statement.

The unidentified nurse is being monitored for fever and symptoms at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the CDC said. Officials have interviewed the patient to identify any contacts or potential exposures in the community, the CDC added.

The nurse had flown from Cleveland just hours before she was diagnosed, the CDC said, adding that it is reaching out to all 132 passengers on the flight to Dallas.

“As we have said before, because of our ongoing investigation, it is not unexpected that there would be additional exposures,” the CDC said.

The CDC said the additional case was a “serious concern,” adding that it has already taken steps to minimize the risk to healthcare workers and the patient.

The CDC also emphasized the steps it is taking to prepare hospitals to treat Ebola patients. It said it is sending an additional team to Dallas, including two infection control nurses from Emory University who are experts in treating Ebola patients without infecting healthcare workers.

It also said it will have a site manager at the Dallas hospital 24 hours a day to oversee care and ensure that healthcare workers are taking the proper precautions.

And a response team will travel within hours to any new hospital that has an Ebola patient to make sure workers are following proper procedures, the CDC said.

The condition of the first infected healthcare worker, Nina Pham, was upgraded from stable to good on Tuesday, the hospital said, according to a Dallas TV station.

The head of the CDC said Tuesday that at least 76 hospital workers in Dallas could be at risk of contracting Ebola.

CDC Director Tom Frieden said the government has cast “a wide net” to identify people who might have had contact with Duncan.

That includes anyone who entered his room and anyone who might have handled specimens of his blood, Frieden said.

Frieden’s comments followed an announcement by the World Health Organization on Tuesday that the death rate in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 70 percent, up from 50 percent.

The WHO made the announcement at a news conference in Geneva, where officials said there could be up to 10,000 new cases of the virus every week within two months.

— Peter Sullivan, Sarah Ferris and Elise Viebeck contributed to this report, which was updated at 12:03 p.m.

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