A second health care worker in the United States has tested positive for the Ebola virus on Wednesday, reports said. The person, who has yet to be identified, along with Nina Pham, contracted the disease while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at the Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The Texas Department of State Health Services announced the news on Wednesday and added, according to CNBC, that the worker had complained of fever on Tuesday. The patient has become the second person to contract the disease in the U.S. after Pham. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, had assured the American public that the country’s hospitals are equipped to tackle the virus and had blamed a breach of protocol at the Dallas hospital when Pham tested positive for Ebola last week.
“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the Texas Department of Health said in a statement, according to CNBC, adding: “The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus.”
“The health care worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated at the hospital,” the statement added.
The announcement of the latest Ebola case in the U.S. comes after national Nurses United, a nurses’ union, claimed late Tuesday that the Dallas hospital did not have enough protective measures in place to deal with Ebola patients.
The nurses’ union said in a statement that Duncan, who contracted Ebola in Liberia and died at the Presbyterian Hospital, was left in an open area of the emergency room for hours while nurses treated him without proper protection, Associated Press, or AP, reported.
The statement released by the union also added that Duncan’s lab samples were allowed to travel through pneumatic tubes, which risked the virus contaminating the specimen delivery system. The nurses also added that hazardous waste was also allowed to pile up in the facility.
“There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system,” Deborah Burger of National Nurses United, said, according to AP, adding: “Hospital managers have assured nurses that proper equipment has been ordered but it has not arrived yet.”
Wendell Watson, a spokesperson for the Presbyterian Hospital where Pham and the latest Ebola case are being treated, did not comment on the nurses’ allegations, but said that the hospital had not received other similar complaints.
“Patient and employee safety is our greatest priority and we take compliance very seriously,” Watson said in a statement, according to AP, adding: “We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24/7 hotline and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting.”
According to the CDC, 76 people at the Presbyterian Hospital may have been exposed to Duncan after his second visit to the emergency room, while 48 more people, who may have been exposed before he was hospitalized, are being monitored.
Meanwhile, a poll conducted by NBC and Wall Street Journal, shows that 56 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. is ready to deal with an Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 4,000 people and has infected over 8,000 people, mostly in West Africa.