The second person to show Ebola symptoms on US soil has been identified as 26-year-old nurse Nina Pham.
Pham’s family confirmed her identity to the press on Monday. She was diagnosed with Ebola on Sunday and is the first person to contract the disease in the US.
Pham is reportedly a nurse in Dallas who was caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan contracted the disease in Liberia and then traveled to the US, where he first started showing symptoms.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating exactly how the transmission occurred, but a protocol breach is suspected.
Pham’s family provided this photo of her to news stations:
Pham was “self-monitoring” for possible Ebola symptoms, which is standard protocol in healthcare workers who have close contact with Ebola patients, and noticed a low-grade fever Friday night. She was in isolation within about 90 minutes.
People wearing full protective gear are often at the most risk when they are removing it, which is a very involved process. Teresa Romero, a Spanish nursing assistant who contracted Ebola after cleaning the room of an Ebola patient in Madrid, told the press she thinks she may have touched her face with a contaminated glove while removing her protective suit.
More than 4,000 people have died in what’s been the worst Ebola outbreak the world has ever seen.
Ebola is mostly concentrated to West Africa, where more than 8,000 people have contracted the disease. Those numbers include 401 healthcare workers who have been infected; 232 of them have died.
The CDC is currently following a procedure called contact tracing to limit Ebola’s spread in the US. This procedure requires investigators to track down anyone who could become ill with the disease.
Investigators first locate everyone who has touched or been in contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, then they monitor all of those contacts for as long as it takes the disease to show symptoms.
Pham seems to have had contact with just one other person while symptomatic, CDC officials said Sunday.
Ebola’s death rate in the current outbreak has been about 70%. The disease begins with flu-like symptoms and in many cases escalates to internal and external bleeding and organ failure.
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