PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The death of Thomas Eric Duncan, from the Ebola virus he contracted in West Africa, has now led to the first transmitted case of Ebola in the United States, in a nurse who cared for Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
“With the second case, and the second case in a health care worker – I think everyone really put their antennas up,” says Dr. Tom Campbell.
At Allegheny Health Network, and at UPMC hospitals, plans are now in place to net any suspected Ebola cases.
“And we ask questions about their symptoms, and if they’ve traveled or been exposed to people with these kind of illness,” says Dr. Carlene Muto, Director of Infectious Disease Prevention at UPMC Presbyterian.
And, if a case is suspected, the patient would be immediately isolated.
With guidance from the Centers For Disease Control, health care workers follow the same protocol they would if there is danger of any contamination with bodily fluids, blood, vomiting or diarrhea.
The “Protective Personal Equipment,” or PPEs, includes: plastic gowns, face shields, masks and gloves.
UPMC is also looking into one-piece protective suits that make it easier to get in and out of the gear – and less likely to cause a mistake.
Dr. Muto believes it may have been a breach in this protocol that allowed the Texas nurse to become infected.
“And so it is likely that perhaps she got contaminated as she removed her garb,” Muto said.
Transporting patients to hospitals will also take special handling.
“It’s new and it’s not new. We went through this a couple of years back with the H1N1 flu virus,” recalls Chief Bocian of Pittsburgh’s Emergency Medical Services.
But using the latest information, they now have a manual specifically for Ebola – and the EMS protective kit has been upgraded, according to Patient Care Coordinator Mark Pinchalk.
“Instead of regular safety glasses – we upgraded to goggles,” Pinchalk said. “Instead of a fluid resistant gown, we have a fluid impermeable gown.”
Allegheny County 911 callers can also expect more questions if you have Ebola-like symptoms.
Says Chief Bocian, “We still believe that in Pittsburgh the incidence of coming across Ebola is very low.”
But Pittsburgh appears to be prepared.
You May Also Be Interested In These Latest News Stories
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4″]
Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter