Originally published October 15 2014
CDC director now 'rethinking' Ebola strategy that he previously claimed was bulletproof
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Once upon a time in the not too distant past, top U.S. health officials and politicians were telling Americans that they had nothing to worry about regarding the spread of Ebola to the United States.
Now, after two people in the U.S. have contracted the virus and one has already died, officials are singing a different tune.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and one of the top officials who, just weeks ago, said Americans had little to fear from Ebola, now says that medical experts must "rethink" how it and other highly infectious diseases are handled in the country, following news that a Dallas nurse has contracted the virus even though she was wearing protective clothing.
As the deadly virus begins to spread beyond its origins in West Africa, hospitals and medical organizations, especially for nursing, are reexamining the threat and taking better stock of their own training and preparedness to handle such infections.
'The care of Ebola is hard'
"We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control. Even a single infection is unacceptable," Frieden told reporters at a recent news conference. "The care of Ebola is hard. We're working to make it safer and easier."
The CDC chief went on to say that health officials are still investigating how the nurse, 26-year-old Nina Pham, became infected at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital while caring for the first Ebola victim, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died October 8. Pham is the first person to contract the disease on U.S. soil; Duncan brought it with him from Liberia, one of three hard-hit West African nations.
As Reuters further reported:
The family was in shock when it learned the young woman had contracted Ebola, said Tom Ha, a close friend of the Pham family who is also a Bible studies teacher at the Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Fort Worth.
"The mother was crying, very upset," Ha told Reuters.
For now, Frieden says Pham is "clinically stable." He added that his agency is also monitoring others who were involved with caring for Duncan for Ebola symptoms.
The CDC head also apologized for comments that he made on October 12 when Pham's infection was first disclosed. Frieden hinted that she might have been responsible for her own infection, claiming that she breached treatment protocol and exposed herself to the deadly virus. Some critics said his comments fell short of addressing substantial gaps in training for hospital staff to deal with something so deadly.
"I'm sorry if that was the impression given," Frieden explained, adding that the CDC would take every possible step to increase awareness of Ebola at hospitals around the country, as well as staff training.
The Texas Nurses Association defended Pham in a statement, saying it was wrong to assume that she might be to blame.
"The facts are not known about how the nurse in Dallas was exposed," the association stated. "It is incorrect to assume that the nurse failed to follow protocols."
At the news conference, Frieden told reporters that additional changes in procedures had been put in place already. Those included having CDC staff monitor health workers as they put on and take off protective clothing and gear while caring for Pham. He said there would be additional training on how to do so properly.
In addition, Reuters reported:
He said other steps were being considered including new types of protective clothing and possibly spraying down staff with solutions that could kill the virus if someone were to become contaminated.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told ABC News that health authorities should probably consider sending Ebola patients only to a few select "containment" hospitals.
Meanwhile, Frieden and other senior administration officials briefed President Obama -- who himself suggested just weeks ago that concern over Ebola was overblown -- about Pham's condition. The CDC chief stressed that "lessons learned" from the agency's investigation into Pham's infection should be distributed to hospitals and healthcare workers all over the country, according to the White House.
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