Second US Nurse Falls Victim to Ebola Virus

Published: 16th October 2014 12:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2014 12:15 AM   |  A+A-

An Ebola outbreak in America moved closer yesterday (Wednesday) when a second Dallas nurse tested positive for the disease a day after she took a flight from Ohio to Texas through two international airports.

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President Barack Obama was forced to cancel a campaign trip to hold an emergency Ebola summit at the White House amid growing condemnation of the chaotic federal response to the arrival of the disease in the United States.

He discussed the outbreak earlier in a video conference with David Cameron, and their German, French and Italian counterparts.

Nurses' leaders condemned what they alleged were alarming safety breaches at the Dallas hospital at the centre of the crisis, alleging that a Liberian man who later died of the disease was left in a waiting room with other patients and health workers treated him with inadequate protective gear.

Amber Vinson became the second nurse from Dallas Presbyterian Hospital to be diagnosed with Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died there last week. About 75 other members of the medical team are being monitored for signs of the disease.

Miss Vinson is to be airlifted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta where Ebola experts have successfully treated other patients who contracted the disease in Africa.

Miss Vinson told authorities that she had flown from Cleveland back to the Texas city on Monday, the day before she became ill, through airports used by tens of thousands of passengers each day.

Other passengers on the Frontier Airlines flight were being contacted by health officials and given a hotline number to call. Doctors said Miss Vinson was reportedly not showing symptoms of the disease on the plane, so there should be no risk of infection.

Officials claimed that she broke monitoring guidelines when she flew to Ohio and back to Texas after treating Mr Duncan.

Medical staff who cared for him were not supposed to take commercial flights.

Mr Obama convened the White House summit after officials at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted that a faster and more concerted federal response to Mr Duncan's case could have prevented the infection of others.

Nina Pham, 26, another nurse, is said to be in a "good condition" after becoming the first person to contract the disease in America after also helping to care for Mr Duncan.

The hospital was criticised by some of its own nurses in an extraordinary statement issued anonymously by one of the country's main nursing unions. "Were the protocols breached?" asked Deborah Burger, a co-president of the union, National Nurses United. "The nurses say there were no protocols."

Mr Duncan was initially sent home from the hospital, despite arriving at the emergency room with symptoms of the disease and disclosing that he had recently arrived from Liberia where he had contact with an Ebola victim.

 The nurses' statement claimed even when Mr Duncan arrived back seriously ill by ambulance he was not put into isolation for several hours, but left in a waiting area with other patients.

The nurses who first dealt with him wore gowns, gloves with no taping around the wrists, and surgical masks with the option of a shield, the statement claimed, leaving their necks exposed.

The statement alleged that hospital officials allowed nurses who dealt with Mr Duncan at a time when he was vomiting and had diarrhoea to continue to care for other patients "even though they had not had the proper personal protective equipment".

Officials at the hospital said they would review concerns raise by the nurses but defended their efforts to "provide a safe working environment".

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