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Dallas County prepares for 'very real possibility' of more Ebola cases

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(NaturalNews) With a third person in the Dallas area now infected with the Ebola virus, local officials say they are gearing up to handle more patients, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry contemplates declaring a local emergency.

Such a declaration would free up state funds that could be used to help provide more equipment and resources, as well as pay overtime for hospital staff and emergency services, Reuters reported October 15, adding:

The Dallas County Commissioners Court is set [October 16] to discuss whether to ask Governor Rick Perry to declare a local emergency. The declaration would help reimburse Dallas County for expenses related to Ebola, such as overtime and hazardous materials cleaning.

Meanwhile, local Texas health officials issued an apology to the city and surrounding communities for misdiagnosing Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who brought the Ebola virus to the U.S. He died of the disease Oct. 8.

'We are deeply sorry'

"We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry," Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, which includes Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said in online testimony prepared for an upcoming congressional hearing. Presbyterian Hospital is where Duncan was treated; since his death, two healthcare workers there have tested positive for the virus.

National Nurses United, a nursing union and professional organization, has said that basic infection control procedures were not followed at the hospital, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the facility's own rules. For example, the group said, no one was picking up hazardous waste in Duncan's room, which was "piled to the ceiling." Reuters added:

The hospital said in a statement that it had instituted measures to create a safe working environment and it was reviewing and responding to the nurses' criticisms.

The hospital also said it would offer a room to any affected worker who wanted to avoid the possibility of exposing other people to the Ebola virus.

Over the weekend of Oct. 11-12, 26-year-old Nina Pham, a registered nurse at Texas Health who was part of the team caring for Duncan, tested positive for the virus, which has a mortality rate of about 70 percent in West Africa, where it originated. Since then, another care team member, Amber Vinson, 29, has tested positive; both of the nurses have had contact with scores of others during what some experts believe were infectious periods, though they showed no symptoms.

As to the hospital's infectious control procedures, other experts have noted that Ebola is a Biosafety Level 4 Biohazard, which requires very stringent isolation techniques and careful handling of infected materials -- a level of training that few commercial hospitals are suited to handle. Generally speaking, there are no known cures for BSL-4 biohazards.

'She should not have been allowed to fly'

The second nurse diagnosed with Ebola, Vinson, contacted the CDC several times prior to boarding a commercial flight from Cleveland to Dallas Oct. 13 to inform them that she had a temperature of 99.5 F but, CNN reported, was told that she could go ahead and fly anyway, because she did not meet the agency's temperature threshold of 100.4 F.

"She was being monitored here," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, in an interview with CNN, adding that he was not sure how she was allowed to board her plane. "And if she was being monitored correctly, I think she should have never gotten on that flight."

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said that Vinson should not have been allowed to fly because a) she was experiencing a temperature; and b) she had been caring for Duncan.

"The CDC guidance in this setting outlines the need for what is called controlled movement. That can include a charter plane, a car, but it does not include public transport," Frieden said. "We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement."
Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at www.BioDefense.com






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