Second Health Worker Infected With Ebola at Texas Hospital

Illustration for article titled Second Health Worker Infected With Ebola at Texas Hospital

A second Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker who cared for "patient zero" Thomas Eric Duncan has contracted Ebola. Duncan died last week and Nina Pham, the first nurse to be infected after caring for him, remains in quarantine. But don't panic, guys.


This week, according to ABC News, a second worker found herself feverish and then quarantined in the hospital. The Center for Disease Control has already begun confirmation testing.

In addition to this second new Ebola infection, the Texas Health Presbyterian administration are monitoring the other health care workers who came in contact with Duncan's bodily fluids — which is how Ebola is spread (not by air like a cold, for example).

The CDC is blaming the hospital for not training their staff properly on how to safely handle ebola patients like Duncan. The nurses are alleging that Duncan was left in "an open area of a Dallas emergency room for hours," those who treated him weren't given the appropriate protective gear and they were tending to other patients who were not infected with Ebola. The CDC says the Texas Presbyterian staff learned how to care for Duncan on the fly and the nurses add that there were rapidly shifting protocols on how to protect their own health on the job.

With this news, it's not time to break out your doomsday panic room gas mask just yet because — well, honestly, that wouldn't save you. For all the terror and death this disease has caused, it's only infected two people stateside and only one person has succumbed to Ebola. Because of how the disease can be passed from one person to another, Ebola is not airborne, it's not the easiest disease to catch if you aren't a health worker caring for patient two and three. These facts mean there isn't a large chance of Ebola spreading, though you should make sure to be safe, stay away from other people's bodily fluids, wash your hands and stay informed. Most importantly, don't panic.

Image via AP.


Yoga Nerd, Maybe Dead

So I finally got around to reading some official numbers and source data on the outbreak, published by the New England Journal. Because, like everyone, I was starting to feel like there was so much panic.

Things in West Africa are bad. To an unprecedented degree. Case fatality based on accessible numbers (and data gathering is insanely difficult given current conditions) is around 45-75%, which is very high and very scary. Infectious disease and epidemiology experts are pointing to a serious lag in containment measures and limited resources as key components in the failure to contain the virus' spread. This is important for thinking about this data - resources and quick action ARE capable of containing the disease. From the NEJM report:

The critical determinant of epidemic size appears to be the speed of implementation of rigorous control measures....Previous experience with EVD outbreaks, though they have been limited in size and geographic spread, suggests that transmission can be interrupted, and case incidence reduced, within 2 to 3 weeks after the introduction of control measures.

Yes, a few people will get sick, but extensive control measures and abundant resources WILL help effectively contain the disease.

OF NOTE - "bleeding out your butt" and "liquifying your insides" are not how people are dying. Yes, Ebola can cause bleeding, but <5% of people are actually experiencing bleeding. People are dying from dehydration and resulting shock, as one would expect from a virus that causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

The news out of West Africa is horrible, but its important to remember that despite all of its faults, we in the U.S. have resources that are not available in West Africa.

This is not the end of days, no matter what your aunt on Facebook would have you believe.