Sunday, October 12, 2014


If this is true, it's extremely disturbing. But is it true?
A female nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has tested positive for Ebola after a preliminary test, officials said....

She helped care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person ever diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Texas Health Resources chief clinical officer Dan Varga said....

The nurse was involved in Duncan's second visit to the hospital, when he was admitted for treatment, and was wearing protective gear as prescribed by the CDC: gown, gloves, mask and shield, Varga said....
If she was infected while carefully, meticulously following the appropriate protocols, that's frightening. But was she? Should we trust the word of this hospital, given the hospital's track record with regard to Duncan?
The hospital has repeatedly changed its account of what the medical team knew when it released Duncan from the emergency room early on Sept. 26.

A few days later, on Sept. 30, it initially said Duncan did not tell the staff he had been in Africa. On Oct. 1, it said Duncan's nurse had been aware of the Africa connection but did not share that information with the rest of the medical team.

The next day, the hospital blamed a flaw in its electronic health-records systems for not making Duncan’s travel history directly accessible to his doctor.

A day later, on Oct. 3, the hospital issued a statement saying Duncan's travel history had been available to all hospital workers, including doctors, who treated him during his initial visit.

Duncan’s travel history was listed in a nursing notice but not in the physician's note....
A nurse in Spain who tested positive for Ebola after treating an infected patient was also said to have been fully protected, but she may have touched her face with one of her gloves. There's also concern among Spanish health care workers that protective gear provided there doesn't meet World Health Organization standards. Will the explanation for the new Texas infection be similar? I think that's more likely than what you're going to her from fearmongers -- that what we think we know about Ebola transmission is wrong.


UPDATE: On Twitter, Mike the Mad Biologist makes note of this, from an infectious disease doctor at Dartmouth:

And here are a couple of the responses:

Absolutely. Matt Drudge, Rand Paul, and other partisan-zealot know-nothings will fan the flames of hysteria for political gain. They want you to panic. They want you think our understanding of Ebola transmission is all wrong, an inconvenient truth the evil Barack Obama is trying to suppress.

Don't listen to people who are wrong about everything and who think it's appropriate to politicize everything. A lapse in proper infection control is a much more likely explanation.


Peter VE said...
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Peter VE said...

Given the chaotic state of its health care system, its place with the fastest doubling rate of Ebola infection, and its 100% Ebola death rate, I think it's far beyond time that we suspended all travel to and from Texas, and instituted strict border controls.

Ken_L said...

The stench of raw panic coming from America is becoming embarrassing. No wonder terrorists target the country - a good chunk of the population seems to get up in the morning and look for something to be terrified about. It's really startling to see the number of pundits who are now shamelessly telling readers they ought to be very, very scared.

If these were the people who came over on the 'Mayflower', they'd still be huddling in a tiny settlement telling each other horror stories about Indians, bears and poison ivy.

John Taylor said...

It seems removing protective gear can easily be done incorrectly. It's probably how these nurses contracted the disease but we need to know for sure.

Glennis said...

What John Taylor said.

The likes of Rand Paul and Matt Drudge need not concern themselves about Ebola.

The most likely people to contract it are caregivers and family members who care for the sick, and people who prepare the dead.

In short, you need to have compassion to contract it. Those guys are in no danger.