Ebola spreads in US: Second American case of deadly virus confirmed in tests on health care worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan

Officials are now seeking to track the new patients contacts

Adam Withnall
Sunday 12 October 2014 18:42
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Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, left, looks on as Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins speaks about a health care worker who contracted Ebola providing hospital care for Thomas Eric Duncan
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, left, looks on as Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins speaks about a health care worker who contracted Ebola providing hospital care for Thomas Eric Duncan

A second case of the Ebola virus has been diagnosed in the US, officials said, involving a health worker who provided care for disease victim Thomas Eric Duncan.

The unidentified health care worker had been treating Mr Duncan until his death at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday, and reported a fever on Friday night.

The worker wore full protective clothing including a gown, gloves, mask and shield while caring for Mr Duncan, according to state health official Dr Daniel Varga.

In a statement, the Texas Department of State Health Services said the worker was referred for testing at a laboratory in Austin, where preliminary tests came back positive late on Saturday night.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta will perform further tests to confirm the diagnosis, NPR reported.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr David Lakey, the Texas health service commissioner.

“We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread,” he added.

If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the US.

Hospital and state health officials did not identify the healthcare worker or provide a job description.

Ebola spreads through close contact with a symptomatic person's bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, faeces, urine, saliva or semen.

Mr Duncan, 42, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the US, grew up next to a leper colony in Liberia and fled years of war before later returning to his country to find it ravaged by the disease that ultimately took his life.

He arrived in Dallas in late September, realising a long-held ambition to join relatives. But when he arrived in Dallas, though he showed no symptoms, he had already been exposed to Ebola.

His neighbours in Liberia believe Mr Duncan became infected when he helped a pregnant neighbour who later died from it. It was unclear if he knew about her diagnosis before travelling.

Additional reporting by PA

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