DALLAS (AP) — A Texas health care worker who provided hospital care for an Ebola patient who later died has tested positive for the virus, health officials said Sunday in a statement. If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.
A statement posted on the Texas Department of State Health Service’s website said “confirmatory testing will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.”
Officials said the health care worker reported a low grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing. Preliminary test results were received late Saturday.
Hospital and state health officials did not identify the health care worker or provide a job description.
“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Health officials have interviewed the patient and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures.
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, like a cut or scrape or someone touching the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands, or being splashed. The World Health Organization says blood, feces and vomit are the most infectious fluids, while the virus is found in saliva mostly once patients are severely ill and the whole live virus has never been culled from sweat.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died Wednesday in Dallas. Duncan, 42, grew up next to a leper colony in Liberia and fled years of war before later returning to his country to find it ravaged by the disease that ultimately took his life.
Duncan arrived in Dallas in late September, realizing a long-held ambition to join relatives. But when Duncan arrived in Dallas, though he showed no symptoms, he had already been exposed to Ebola. His neighbors in Liberia believe Duncan become infected when he helped a pregnant neighbor who later died from it. It was unclear if he knew about her diagnosis before traveling.
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