Second Ebola case in US, health worker tested positive

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Oct 16, 2014 15:52 IST

A second care provider has tested positive for Ebola at a Texas hospital where a man died last week, becoming the latest victim of an outbreak said to be “winning the race” worldwide.

The health care worker, who tested positive on Tuesday, was part of the team that worked on the Liberian man, Duncan E Smith, who died in that hospital last week.

Nina Pham, a nurse from the same team, became the first case of transmission of the dreaded disease on American soil — Smith was infected in Monrovia, Liberia.

Both care providers had taken all precautions laid down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that has puzzled, and angered, health officials and workers.

“We are looking at every element of our personal protection equipment and infection control in the hospital,” Dr. Daniel Varga of Texas Health Resources, which oversees the health where these cases are being treated, told The New York Times.

The outbreak has claimed 4,024 lives worldwide, according to WHO, with the number of reported cases put at 8,376 yet, most of them in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

“Ebola got a head start on us,” Anthony Banbury, head of the UN mission on Ebola, told the Security Council in a briefing through video link on Tuesday.

“It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race. If Ebola wins, we the peoples of the United Nations lose so very much…,” he added.

Banbury, who is leading the UN mission from Ghana, told the council that Sierra Leone and Liberia continue to show an “upward trend” in new cases.

The situation in Guinea appears to be “more stable”.

He said there was an urgent need for more diagnostic laboratories, transport support, and funding to help with operation logistics.

“Time is our biggest enemy,” he warned. “We must use every minute of every day to our advantage and that is what UNMEER (the UN mission) is doing.

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