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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed test results reported late last night by the Texas Department of State Health Services’ public health laboratory showing that a healthcare worker at Texas Presbyterian Hospital is positive for Ebola. The healthcare worker, who provided care for the Dallas index patient, was isolated soon after symptoms started and remains so now.
On October 10, the healthcare worker reported a low-grade fever overnight and was referred for testing. The healthcare worker had been self-monitoring for fever and symptoms. As a precaution, after identification of fever, the healthcare worker was isolated and CDC staff interviewed the patient to determine additional contacts or potential exposures. At this time, one close contact has been identified and is being monitored.
The hospital and patient were notified of the preliminary and confirmatory test results. Treatment decisions will be made by the patient and hospital.
This development 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.
Careful monitoring of all healthcare workers who had interaction with the index patient and this second patient is warranted, including those who cared for the index patient between the time he was isolated in the hospital September 28 through the time of his death on October 8, and they will now be considered patient contacts for follow-up monitoring.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with body fluids of a sick person or the remains of someone who has died of Ebola, or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it could be from 2 to 21 days), and therefore CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious before symptoms such as fever develop.