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Public-health authorities intensified their monitoring of Dallas hospital workers who cared for Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola. Their stepped-up efforts came a day after a 26-year-old nurse tested positive for the virus.
The nurse, identified as Nina Pham, was wearing protective gear when she took care of Thomas Eric Duncan, but nevertheless became the first person to contract the disease within the United States.
Nina Pham reportedly received a blood transfusion Sunday from a survivor of the virus, Dr. Kent Brantly. He also donated his blood to an NBC photographer who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa. Health officials said they believe Brantly’s blood possesses antibodies that could help others suffering from Ebola fend off the virus.
In the meantime Federal health officials on Monday urged the nation’s hospitals to “think Ebola” and keep vigilant watch for symptoms of the disease in any patients who have traveled from the three West African nations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said he would not be surprised if another hospital worker who cared for Duncan becomes ill because Ebola patients become more contagious as the disease progresses. He said the CDC is now monitoring all hospital workers who treated Duncan. Moreover President Barack Obama asked the CDC to quickly investigate the incident.
Pham owns a 1-year-old King Charles Spaniel that has been taken from her apartment to an undisclosed location where its health will be checked, according to the office of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county’s chief political official.
Last week authorities in Spain last week killed a dog owned by a healthcare worker there who has Ebola. They said the dog, called Excalibur, posed a biological risk and that there was evidence that dogs could carry the virus.
An entire community gathered at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic church in Fort Worth Monday night to pray for Pham and her family. “She has a big heart and she liked to help people,” said Phong Tran. “That’s a good choice that she became a nurse.”
Ebola spreads through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen. Those fluids must have an entry point, such as a cut or scrape, or if someone touches the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands or gets splashed.