Second case of Ebola in US

BY JANIE ROSMAN

477471_Ebola-CDC-brief.JPEG-09c16There are more questions than answers after news of a nurse at the Dallas hospital that treated the Liberian patient who died last week contracting Ebola.

The World Health Organization’s fact sheet, updated September 2014, said the virus is introduced via body fluids, and “then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

“There are currently no patients in Westchester County or in New York State being tested for Ebola,” Dr. Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D., Acting NYS Health Commissioner, said in a statement last week.

The Centers for Disease Control said the virus is not airborne.

Amber Vinson, 29, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, was confirmed to have the Ebola virus. She will be transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, CNN health reported. The hospital is treating a third Ebola patient, “a third: a male health care worker who was infected in Sierra Leone.”

During a Wednesday evening special report, President Barack Obama assured the public that the CDD “is reviewing what happened in Dallas, and how we can make sure something like this is not repeated. We are monitoring, supervising and overseeing exactly what’s taking place.”

As soon as someone is diagnosed with Ebola, Obama said, a rapid response team from the CDC is dispatched on the ground as quickly as possible, within 24 hours. “We are making sure all protocols are properly observed, that protective equipment is properly used, and making sure hospitals that aren’t aware of protocols are made aware,” Obama said.

However, some professionals from the hospital leaked to the media that stringent procedures were not in place to deal with the Ebola patient. Ms. Vinson inappropriately flew to a family event one day after treating the Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan.

The CDC is thoroughly canvassing all workers who had contact with Duncan, the first person Ebola victim on American soil.

“We’re working carefully with the mayor of Dallas (Mike Rawlings), and the governor of Texas (Rick Perry), and others to make sure that if any other workers contract it, they are made aware in a way that is consistent with public safety,” he said.

The president reiterated that Ebola is not like the flu. “The only way that a person can contract Ebola is by coming in contact with bodily fluids of someone who is showing symptoms of the virus,” he said, citing contact testing as a safeguard.

Citing his own health, Obama said he “shook hands, hugged and kissed workers at Emory (University Hospital) for their work with the patient.”

If protocols and precise steps are followed, and information is dispersed, “then the likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States is very, very low,” he said. Caveat is that not all hospitals and clinics have information about the virus.

Vowing to inform the public daily, Obama stressed the international response to Ebola will help contain it from spreading globally.

Earlier this week, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said, “The first and most important is ensuring that every hour of the day there’s a site manager there who is overseeing aspects of infection control.”

“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed,” Frieden said. “That might have prevented this infection (health care workers catching Ebola).”

In addition to the 48 hospital staff already being monitored, the CDC will also monitor 76 additional staff because a second nurse contradicted Ebola while wearing protective gear.

“Per CDC and DOH guidance, anyone with a fever or other Ebola symptoms who seeks medical treatment is asked if he or she has had a travel history to Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea in the last 21 days, or has had contact with someone who has traveled to that region,” Zucker said. Anyone who says “yes” is automatically screened for the virus.

“The fact that this did and continues to happen demonstrates that the system works and New York’s hospitals are prepared for this or any other contagious disease. The New York State Department of Health will continue to follow the CDC’s guidance, which are based on years of expert research and best medical practices,” he said.

In Piermont last week to welcome the I Lift NY super crane, Governor Cuomo was asked if he’s worried about the virus, and if he’s thinking about travelers with the virus coming to New York City and New York State. “I’m not worried,” he said. “Is it something we’ve been preparing for? Yes. Have we developed state protocols? Yes. Are we working with hospitals so we have a standard and uniform protocol? Yes.”

The Rockland County Department of Health has been preparing for the possibility of handling an Ebola patient here in the lower Hudson Valley region, this newspaper reported last week.