CDC Director: “Stopping Ebola Is Hard”

The head of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the first Ebola case contracted in the United States makes it clear officials must "rethink the way we address Ebola infection control because even a single infection is unacceptable."

“Stopping Ebola is hard," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a midday press briefing. "We’re working together to make it safer and easier."

Frieden urged hospitals to watch for patients with fever or symptoms of Ebola who have traveled from three Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa in the last 21 days.

Frieden's statement Monday comes a day after a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas tested positive for Ebola. Sources confirmed to NBC 5 the patient is Nina Pham, a 2010 graduate of Texas Christian University's nursing school. 

Pham was one of a number of health care workers who provided care to Thomas Eric Duncan before he died from the Ebola virus on Oct. 8 and is, according to Frieden, clinically stable Monday.

"At this point, TCU has no reason to believe this alum has been on campus recently," TCU Communications Director Lisa Albert said in a statement. "We ask everyone to please keep this 2010 alum in your thoughts and prayers during this time."

The director added only one person is being monitored after being identified as having close contact with Pham when she was potentially infectious, though the hospital is monitoring all health care workers who treated Duncan for symptoms of the Ebola virus.

Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. David Lakey said Monday that Pham's apartment has been cleaned and that officials are working hard to find a location where her dog can be cared for and monitored for Ebola.

Frieden said officials are still trying to pinpoint the "breach in protocol" that resulted in Pham's infection.

Investigators with the CDC are still interviewing the large number of health care workers who treated Duncan. Since they don't know how exactly Pham contracted the virus in the isolation unit, it’s possible others were infected as well, Frieden said.

To try to identify the point of exposure, investigators have cast a wider net with regard to determining the possible source of the exposure. They are now watching how health care workers put on and remove personal protective equipment (PPE), what PPE is being used and what people do when they leave the isolation unit.  Additionally, the CDC is evaluating what is being done within the isolation facility that may contaminate PPE.

Meanwhile, 48 people in Dallas continue to be monitored for Ebola after they were possibly exposed to the virus by Duncan. Ten of those patients were known to have had contact with Duncan while 38 were believed to have had contact with him while he was infectious, Frieden said Monday. None of those patients have shown any symptoms of having contracted Ebola.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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