Dallas Nurse Tests Positive for Ebola Virus

A nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the Ebola patient hospitalized there has tested positive for Ebola in a preliminary test.

News reports out of Dallas indicate that a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the Ebola patient hospitalized there has tested positive for Ebola in a preliminary test, results of which were released late Saturday by the state public health laboratory in Austin, TX.

A news release from the Texas Department of State Health Services revealed the nurse “reported a low-grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing.”

David Lakey, MD, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said, “We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility. We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

Texas health officials have reportedly “interviewed the patient and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures.” The Texas Department of State Health Services said people who had contact with the health care worker after symptoms emerged will be monitored based on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus.

A media statement released Sunday morning by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “confirmation testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s laboratory is being done today.” The CDC has also interviewed the patient to identify any contacts or potential exposures in the community.

While “this is understandably disturbing news for the patient, the patient’s family and colleagues and the greater Dallas community,” the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services “remain confident that wider spread in the community can be prevented with proper public health measures including ongoing contact tracing, health monitoring among those known to have been in contact with the index patient, and immediate isolations if symptoms develop.”

According to the Washington Post, the worker wore protective gear during her interactions with the index Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, although it is unclear what her role was in caring for the man who was the first person in the US to be diagnosed with Ebola.

The Washington Post story said the nurse “had been under self-monitoring in recent days, which includes taking a temperature twice daily.” When the nurse showed signs of a fever, she notified the hospital, “went directly there and immediately was admitted to an isolation room.” A spokesperson for the hospital said “the entire sequence of events took less than 90 minutes.”