A Texas health care worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, who recently died, has tested positive for Ebola.
The Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement, "A health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the Ebola patient hospitalized there has tested positive for Ebola in a preliminary test at the state public health laboratory in Austin."
The health care worker reportedly had a low-grade fever Friday night and was isolated and tested as a result. It should be noted that the first test is simply a preliminary test. A sample for confirmatory testing has been sent of to the Center For Disease Control in Atlanta.
The health care worker reportedly used protective the entire time he or she treated Duncan. A similar case recently occurred in Spain. A nurse contracted Ebola, even though she wore protective equipment, from a 69-year-old priest who was being treated in a Madrid hospital (read more here).
Critics, like Dr. Gil Mobley, claim the CDC is lying about the threat Ebola poses to the United States. The Springfield, Mo based microbiologist and emergency trauma physician made national headlines after he donned protective gear while going through airport security at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Mobley claims the CDC is "sugar-coating" the risk of the virus spreading in the United States. Watch what Mobley has to say about the CDC and Ebola.
Could he be right? Two health care worker wearing protective gear have contracted the virus from treating patients in hospitals.
Signs and Symptoms of Ebola
According to the CDC symptoms of Ebola are as follows:
-Fever (greater than 101.5°F) -Severe headache -Muscle pain -Weakness -Diarrhea -Vomiting -Abdominal (stomach) pain -Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. It should be noted that Ebola patients will NOT test positive for the virus unless they are showing signs and symptoms.
How is Ebola Transmitted?
The Ebola virus is not an "airborne" virus and is actually relatively difficult to transmit. Ebola is spread through direct contact (open sores, mouth, eyes, nose, etc) with:
- blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola - objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus - Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
The CDC claims the virus cannot be transmitted in any other manner. Transmission of the virus can be prevented by using proper protective equipment (gowns, goggles, gloves, etc) and by using universal precautions and avoiding touching any bodily fluids.
How is Ebola Treated?
The treatment of is actually pretty simple and straightforward. Several experimental drugs have been developed and some, like ZMapp, have shown promise but none have been tested through rigorous clinical trials. ZMapp has been used on two American patients and they both survived. The world's current resources on experimental drugs is reportedly exhausted, at current.
For the time being, healthcare professionals are treating Ebola patients with intravenous fluids, balancing electrolytes, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating other infections should they occur.
Current Ebola Outbreak Breakdown
Guinea: Infected - 1,350, Deaths - 778 (58% death rate)
Liberia: Infected - 4,076 , Deaths - 2,316 (57% death rate)
Nigeria: Infected - 20, Deaths - 8 (40% death rate)
Senegal: Infected - 1, Deaths - 0 (0% death rate)
Sierra Leone: Infected - 2,950, Deaths - 930 (31% death rate)
United States: Infected - 2, Deaths - 1 (0% death rate)
Spain: Infected - 1, Deaths - 0 (0% death rate)
Total: Infected - 8,399, Deaths - 4,033 (48% death rate)
*data current from the Center for Disease Control as of October 9, 2014
WHO claims the current reported cases most likely underrepresent the breadth and scope of the current outbreak. Many Ebola patients, in West Africa, refuse treatment due to the impending consequences potentially created by the stigma associated with the virus. In addition, many West Africans hold superstitious beliefs both about the nature of the disease and about the governments' response.
WHO has also warned the current outbreak could reach over 1 million by 2015 if the spread of the virus cannot be mitigated by the health organization interventions.
Sierra Leone has attempted desperate measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. In September, the government ordered a 3 day mandatory quarantine of all citizens by staying in their homes. Read more about the story here.