By Peter Stebbings, AFP
WASHINGTON–A Texas health care worker who treated an Ebola victim has tested positive for the deadly tropical fever, dealing a blow to the worldwide battle to stem the outbreak. More than 4,000 people have died of Ebola in seven countries since the start of the year, according to the World Health Organization, and the epidemic appears to be outpacing efforts to fight it. If preliminary test results are confirmed, the Texas patient would be the second person diagnosed with the illness and apparently the first to contract it on U.S. soil, a day after U.S. airports began screening travelers from epidemic-hit west Africa. “We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”
The health care worker from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas reported a low-grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing, Texas health services said in a statement early Sunday. They did not further identify the worker nor detail how exposure to the virus occurred. The hospital had treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died on Wednesday. Duncan was believed to have been infected with Ebola before he left Liberia and boarded a plane to visit family in Texas. The latest Texas case underlines United Nations fears and growing concerns in the United States about Ebola, for which there is no vaccine or widely available treatment.