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Medicine United States

Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola 421

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to have been diagnosed in the U.S. with Ebola, and who subsequently died of the disease, was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Now, in a second diagnosis for the U.S, an unidentified health-care worker from the hospital has tested positive for Ebola as well. According to the linked Reuters story, Texas officials did not identify the worker or give any details about the person, but CNN said it was a woman nurse. The worker was wearing full protective gear when in contact with Duncan, Texas Health Resources chief clinical officer Dan Varga told a news conference. "We are very concerned," Varga said. "We don't have a full analysis of all of the care. We are going through that right now." ... The worker was self-monitoring and has not worked during the last two days, Varga said. The worker was taking their own temperature twice a day and, as a result of the monitoring, the worker informed the hospital of a fever and was isolated immediately upon their arrival, the hospital said in a statement. (Also covered by the Associated Press, as carried by the Boston Globe, which notes that "If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.")
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Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

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  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:33AM (#48123671)

    We have robots for ridding explosive ordinance. Considering the humber of healthcare workers that contracted this disease so far, hopefully some remotely controlled robot doctor/nurses would help further quarantine the situation.

    We are far from autonomous humanoid robots, but since this isn't a labor saving measure, it should be much easier, as they are rather more like walking drones, how far is current tech from making this possible?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ledow ( 319597 )

      There is virtually nothing (not even Ebola) that can get through basic procedures, even with humans treating them. Even without full isolation, just making sure that direct bodily contact does not occur is enough to stop basically anything - hence why doctors wear rubber gloves even if they digging into your internals with blood everywhere.

      Such a thing would be so unbelievably infectious that we'd all have it - planet-wide - within a couple of days. It's just not in the nature of such things to be that in

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So you honestly believe those thousands who got infected licked another's bodily fluids?

        You may have prestigious friends, or not, but you just sound like an ignorant moron.

        Reality is that most people are not as vigilant as professional scientists handling bioweapons that could wipe us out many times over.
        If you lived in Africa, you would know how deadly and debilitating HIV/AIDS can be.

        • Re:Robots? (Score:5, Informative)

          by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:30AM (#48123999)

          So you honestly believe those thousands who got infected licked another's bodily fluids?

          Yes. In the countries with widespread Ebola, they have funeral rites that involve touching and kissing the corpse. In some instances, relatives washed the corpse, and then, as a sign of respect, drank the water. These countries have a deep distrust of official authority, including health workers, so there has not been much success at discouraging these traditional practices. Except for a few isolated and quickly contained instances, Ebola has not spread beyond the regions with these practices.

      • I agree with your overall message, but humans being what they are (not always following the rules), another barrier of protection would not hurt imo.

        A salute to your friends for me.

      • AIDS doesn't cause contagious blood, spit, diarrhea, and vomit to go everywhere. Ebola does.

        AIDS doesn't infect health care workers who are treating patients unless there's a needlestick or sexual contact. Ebola does, with alarming frequency. Even if you DO have sex with someone with AIDS, it's not 100% that you'll get AIDS.

        AIDS can't be spread by sneezing or coughing. It's possible Ebola *is*.

        In terms of contagiousness, Ebola seems 10x worse. It's like saying "smallpox is no worse than chickenpox". Maybe if you put them both on a logarithmic plot and back up 50 feet!

        --PM

        • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

          AIDS doesn't cause contagious blood, spit, diarrhea, and vomit to go everywhere. Ebola does.

          AIDS doesn't infect health care workers who are treating patients unless there's a needlestick or sexual contact. Ebola does, with alarming frequency. Even if you DO have sex with someone with AIDS, it's not 100% that you'll get AIDS.

          AIDS can't be spread by sneezing or coughing. It's possible Ebola *is*.

          In terms of contagiousness, Ebola seems 10x worse. It's like saying "smallpox is no worse than chickenpox". Maybe if you put them both on a logarithmic plot and back up 50 feet!

          --PM

          The 1918 influenza outbreak killed an estimated 25 million people in it's first 25 weeks, and killed an estimated 50 million in the course of the year. It infected over 500 million people in total.

          The regular yearly flu kills anywhere from about 4,000 to 40,000 people a year in the US and infects many many more.

          And yet, you don't seem to be panicking about that.

          Heart disease kills a million a year. Cancer kills about half that. Car crashes kill about 40,000 a year.

          And yet you don't seem to be losing your mi

      • Re:Robots? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Hrrrg ( 565259 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:20AM (#48123933)

        There is virtually nothing (not even Ebola) that can get through basic procedures, even with humans treating them. Even without full isolation, just making sure that direct bodily contact does not occur is enough to stop basically anything - hence why doctors wear rubber gloves even if they digging into your internals with blood everywhere.

        Such a thing would be so unbelievably infectious that we'd all have it - planet-wide - within a couple of days. It's just not in the nature of such things to be that infectious. Ebola is actually no worse than AIDS, from what I can tell from a quick search.

        There are so many things wrong with this, it is hard to know where to start...

        Many diseases are much more infectious than ebola. I recall from medical school that you can catch chicken pox (if you haven't had it or been vaccinated) from the air two hours after a patient has left the room. Influenza is also much more infectious than ebola, which is why is spreads around the world in weeks/months every year.

        Fortunately ebola is not nearly so infectious. But if someone is having continuous watery diarrhea and bleeding everywhere (e.g. Ebola) and your job is to roll them over every hour, while they are thrashing around, to clean up their bloody virus-laden excrement, and your only protection is mask/gloves/gown - well, good luck.

        HIV requires that you get infected bodily fluid (usually blood) into your own bloodstream, which is much hard than catching Ebola.

        • The big unknown is what 'full protective gear' means. A class A suit? Masks, gloves, Tyvek gown? It would be pretty hard to get an infection in the former (although hardly impossible), rather easy to take the stuff off incorrectly (which turns out to be the hard part) and get a couple of viral particles on you. This will be a teaching point for health care workers - Do It Right. People get tired, they get distracted, they get sloppy. Although Ebola won't jump out an bite you, it still deserves quite a

      • by Znork ( 31774 )

        Ebola is vastly more infectious than HIV. With HIV you basically need to get blood with a viral load injected to have any certainty of getting it. Transmission rates with vaginal intercourse are in the rates of far below 1% per act. More than half the pregnancies don't even transmit the virus to the baby.

        Compare that with Ebola where the virus is in basically present in infectious levels in every bodily fluid spread around to the extent that hospital personnel don't even know how they got it.

        HIV, lick it, y

      • Ebola is actually no worse than AIDS, from what I can tell from a quick search.
        ...
        Just don't lick it, and you're fine.

        I can put AIDs in my mouth all I want and not get AIDs.
        If I put Ebola in my mouth, I will get infected with Ebola.
        Please stop spreading this nonsense that Ebola is as difficult as AIDs to transmit. It is carried in more bodily fluids, and can be spread by contact with those fluids. It does not require a wound, as AIDs does.

      • Re:Robots? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tom ( 822 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:48AM (#48124113) Homepage Journal

        To get to the point that a nurse is infected means that protocol wasn't followed. That it wasn't EVERY nurse and EVERY doctor that touched the patient is quite telling.

        We know some details about the nurse that was infected in spain: She touched her face with her hands before disinfecting them.

        Yes, protocol wasn't followed. But here's the point: You need to follow protocol 100% of the time to be safe. You only need to make one mistake to be infected. For a virus with such a crazy lethality rate, that's not good. Treating an ebola patient is a lot like playing russian roulette.

        Just don't lick it, and you're fine.

        Very few of the people who are now dead licked it. Yes, the media loves fear stories and it's overblown, but you're underblowing it.

        • She thinks she may have touched her face with a glove. Nobody is really sure. However, if she did that would show that Ebola is way more contagious than the CDC thinks. That implies transdermal transmission.

        • by bongey ( 974911 )

          A water/bleach spray down at entrace and exit before taking off gear. The spray down is part of the process in Africa but not in the US , which is just dumb.

      • Re:Robots? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sibko ( 1036168 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @01:30PM (#48124651)

        You're kidding me right?

        A woman working under biohazard 4 conditions, wearing a hermetically sealed suit, working with a patient she KNOWS has ebola and is infectious; gets Ebola herself, and you are seriously trying to play it off like it's no worse than HIV? Acting like a know-it-all expert on infectious diseases and trying to reassure everyone that this isn't going anywhere and isn't dangerous?

        Look, I'm not trying to fear-monger here for the sake of it, and I'm certainly no ebola-expert, but trying to reassure everyone that this is just going to blow over with this idiocy about how safe Ebola is and how nobody can catch it unless they fucking lick infected blood when that is increasingly not the case just sets me right off. Even the media has done a complete 180 on their usual fear-mongering. Let's suppose for a moment that this woman did something out of procedure - she didn't clean her suit or something, and she touched it, then rubbed her eyes.

        That's not HIV-level infectious. That's influenza/cold-level infectious, and that is extremely worrying, because the CDC seems to be grossly incompetent in this entire situation and I'm beginning to wonder if the corporations involved who have the potential to make literal billions to trillions off Ebola vaccines aren't giving little nudges here and there to maintain a certain level of incompetence in the matter. We aren't even quarantining Africa - the CDC says that wouldn't do anything. Like hell it wouldn't. The first thing we did when SARS was worrying people was to quarantine and shut down air travel, but apparently we're finding out only just now that this didn't work and won't work for Ebola, so let's just spend millions trying to screen for it ineffectively at the airports into our countries? I'm sorry, I'm not buying this. I'm not buying anything the mass media are telling us about this disease anymore. How many times does the mass media have to lie to people before they stop actually trusting them?

        Did you know that one of the Ebola strains quite possibly moved through an air gap to cause infection?
        http://www.nature.com/srep/201... [nature.com]

        We also know that the Filovirus family can easily become airborne:
        http://www.nature.com/nbt/jour... [nature.com]

        This virus is spreading into the tens of thousands range in West Africa. That's an immense breeding ground for it to adapt to a new host. We know that Ebola strains can become airborne, and we keep having doctors getting sick with the virus in spite of hefty precautions against it. So why are we assuming it can't be airborne and can't be transmitted during its incubation period? Why are we assuming it has low infectivity when doctors in full protective gear are getting it? When people are literally getting this virus from just touching things that ebola victims have touched? Why is nobody taking precautions in case it IS highly infectious? This isn't some joke of a virus that kills 2% of the people it infects; almost everyone who gets it dies. This isn't something to be jovial and careless around, yet we took more precautions around SARS than anything we're doing with Ebola. It's fucking madness, and I keep seeing people parrot this bullshit that we shouldn't be worried, have nothing to fear if we aren't literally bathing in Ebola-blood like West Africans obviously are, and so on.

        No, we DO have something to fear from this - you'd be foolish not to be worried - and I am not satisfied in the least with the way our governments are treating this whole thing. It's almost flippant. I think some serious discussion about this virus getting into western countries uncontrollably needs to seriously start happening. What are you going to do if Ebola ends up in your town? Have you even considered talking about it with your family? With your local community? Is the effort involved in being prepared really worth the risk o


      •   Ebola is actually no worse than AIDS, from what I can tell from a quick search. So long as there's no bodily fluid contact, you're fine.

        I agree with everything else you're saying, but this is absolutely false. AIDS is VERY difficult to get. You won't get AIDS from casual contact with saliva, urine, sputum, or feces. Ebola can be contracted by any of these coming in contact with your eye.

        So they're worlds apart in terms of how transmissible each is.

    • by bongey ( 974911 )

      Really just need a water/bleach spray down at entrace and exit before taking off gear. The spray down is part of the process in Africa but not in the US , which is just dumb.

  • "Human infections caused by Ebola-Reston virus in the US in 1990"
    Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd... [cdc.gov]

    More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

    Yeah. Pigs and monkeys. And in the US and Philippines. Enjoy your day!

    • by rkww ( 675767 )

      "Human infections caused by Ebola-Reston virus in the US in 1990"

      Oh dear, selective quoting at its best / worst. That sentence in full: "Human infections caused by Ebola-Reston virus in the US in 1990 and in the Philippines resulted in no clinical illness."

  • Protocols (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12, 2014 @10:55AM (#48123807)

    The fact that the nurse in Spain, and the one in Dallas both contracted the disease despite wearing full protective gear - and in full knowledge that the patient was infectious - is pretty scarey. You have to imagine that both of those people were fully aware of how dangerous the situation was and were doing their very best to avoid doing anything to compromise their own safety. Clearly we either need better suits or better training, or some kind of a 'buddy system' where two people watch each other to ensure that they don't accidentally do something wrong.

    There was a piece on NPR a few days ago that said that the Doctors Without Borders people use a buddy system like this - and despite having hundreds of people on the ground in Africa for a month or more, have only had three staff infections.

    Without some improved level of protection, asking doctors and nurses to expose themselves to a disease with a 70% mortality rate (latest WHO estimate...up from 60%), no immunization and no known cure, is asking a lot. Clearly we aren't going to be able to make a vaccine or a cure in any reasonable timescale - so we really need to be working hard to improve protection. The idea of using robots for at least some of the jobs is interesting - but probably impractical for all but the simplest tasks.

    We know that this disease can spread exponentially the "base reproduction" figure (the number of people who catch the disease from one infected person) is between 1.7 and 2.3, and it takes 2 to 3 weeks for the infected person to develop symptoms and pass it on. So there is a potential for the disease to double every 3 weeks. We have just a couple of victims in the USA right now, so in a year, we could have a million victims and 700,000 deaths. Clearly, we have to reduce that base reproduction number below 1.0 - but if...with proper protection gear and highly aware workers...both the Spanish and Dallas initial cases were able to spread to one additional victim, we're clearly not going to get anywhere close to a 1.0 rate anytime soon.

    • I think a lot of what is going on is that healthcare workers in rich western countries have very little actual experience with an 80% fatal infectious disease.

      While they may have training on protocols for dealing with such a disease, they undoubtedly are too busy to actually practice enough to keep current.

      With the exception of SARS (and SARS didn't get most places it quite positively could have), we haven't had a real, o my god outbreak in living memory in the western world. So our health care professiona

      • I think a lot of what is going on is that healthcare workers in rich western countries have very little actual experience with an 80% fatal infectious disease.

        The one in Texas is a registered nurse, and you do not get to be a registered nurse unless you fully comprehend the Germ Theory of Disease.

        And unless that nurse has an IQ of 80 and been living under a rock for the past month, she would've been aware of what Ebola is and how easily it can kill you if you get it.

        There isn't anything special about Ebola containment that one needs vast amount of experience to master. Any competent healthcare professional would've learned it long ago. It's just a matter of being

    • There was a piece on NPR a few days ago that said that the Doctors Without Borders people use a buddy system like this - and despite having hundreds of people on the ground in Africa for a month or more, have only had three staff infections.

      I heard that too, so I went looking for more information.

      October 04, 2014: Since March 2014, 16 MSF staff members contracted the virus; nine of them have died. [doctorswit...orders.org]

      The "three" that NPR reported is probably Doctors Without Borders international staff, with the other infections being local staff.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:02AM (#48123841)
    We now have two cases of Ebola being contracted by health care workers in developed nations (Spain, USA), plus the many workers who have contracted it while working with patients in the affected African nations. One wonders if the pool of health care workers willing to work with these patients will start to dwindle and whether the CDC call for calm is more direct at those workers than the general public.
  • Hospitals..... One of the most contagious places in an area. Being in an environment with the highest concentration of infected people is bad enough, but hospital employees have been known to have less than stellar hygiene. I think an entire technology product sector has had to be created just to encourage employees to wash their hands regularly.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/... [usatoday.com]

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:34AM (#48124031)

    I know, if "you only follow procedure" this isn't supposed to be a big deal.

    But what's scary is that with a very small number of patients (one) and likely a lot of attention to procedure, a healthcare worker got infected. Sure, we can blame sloppy procedure, but it happened anyway.

    What would it look like though if we had a dozen patients or a hundred or a thousand? It's real easy to blame bad procedure, but what makes us think a wider outbreak would have *better* procedures and more attention to detail? We might get better at it (lack of practice may be an issue) and we might make incremental improvements to the kinds of procedures we follow but we might also get worse, lack facilities or the inevitible stress of a larger outbreak might impede vigilance, not improve it.

    What scares me about Ebola is how apparently difficult it can be to contain even under ideal conditions.

  • by kencurry ( 471519 ) on Sunday October 12, 2014 @11:54AM (#48124147)
    Dear Texas,

    After careful consideration, we do actually think that your secession plans make sense after all!

    With Best Regards,
    The Other 49 States
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