Officials admit failures as a SECOND health care worker in Dallas tests positive for Ebola

Second Texas Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola
Second Texas Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola


By RYAN GORMAN

A second health care worker in Dallas has tested positive for Ebola, authorities announced, and almost 80 hospital employees are now under observation.

The latest Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee to be diagnosed is a female who lives alone and has no pets, Judge Clay Jenkins said during a Wednesday morning press conference. Dozens of additional health workers are now considered to be at some level of risk.

Her family has identified the woman to ABC News as Amber Vinson.

"At the hospital, we have a situation involving 77 people, two of which have tested for Ebola," Jenkins said.

The newest diagnosed person was part of the team taking care of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who was diagnosed with and died from the disease in Dallas. But officials refuted claims from nurses saying proper precautions were not being taken to protect hospital employees.

"They did have proper protective gear," Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, said shortly after calling the ordeal an "unprecedented crisis."

Varga added: "We are a hospital that may have done some things differently with the benefit of what we know today ... I don't think we have a systematic, institutional problem."

The Dallas hospital has taken care of one Ebola patient and two employees became ill. A Nebraska hospital that has cared for five Ebola patients has not seen a single health care worker become ill.

Vinson joins Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse whose condition is improving, officials said Tuesday, as the only two patients to contract the disease in the U.S.

She was admitted Tuesday and placed into isolation 90 minutes after self-reporting a fever and other associated symptoms, said Jenkins. Potential contacts are already being identified.

"Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored," authorities said in a statement. "The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus."

Authorities admitted contingencies are being put into place for additional Ebola patients.

"You can imagine the anxiety of the families of these 77 people," Jenkins lamented.

A cleaning team similar to the one that cleaned the apartments of both Pham and Duncan's family was dispatched to sterilize Vinson's home, sources previously told the Dallas Morning News.

The diagnosis comes as CDC director Thomas Frieden admitted more precautions could have been taken to protect healthcare workers caring for Ebola patients.

The agency should have had "a more robust hospital infection control team" on the ground immediately after Duncan's diagnosis, Frieden said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

"I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient - the first patient - was diagnosed," he said. "We will do that from today onward with any case anywhere in the U.S."

Such a team was dispatched to Dallas this week, the agency previously announced, and will be deployed anywhere that Ebola is found.

"For any hospital anywhere in the country that has a confirmed case of Ebola, we will put a team on the ground within hours [with] some of the world's leading experts on how to take care of and protect health care workers from Ebola infection," said Frieden.

"I think we could, in retrospect, with 20-20 hindsight - we could have sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from Day One about exactly how this should be managed," he admitted.

"Ebola is unfamiliar. It's scary, and getting it right is really, really important, because the stakes are so high."

Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital has only three isolation rooms. When asked what the plan was should there be more Ebola diagnoses, Jenkins mentioned an afternoon conference call between state and federal officials but did not have a coherent answer.

There does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. None of the 48 people under observation after coming into contact with Duncan have shown symptoms of the deadly disease. Their observation period expires on Sunday.

Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings added: "It may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better."

More on the Ebola outbreak:
Dallas nurses cite sloppy conditions in Ebola care
CDC: Rapid response team for any new Ebola cases
Nurse infected with Ebola says she's 'doing well'