A second health worker in Texas has tested positive for Ebola, US officials said Wednesday, in a new contamination far from the west African heart of an epidemic that the UN warns is “winning the race”.
Like the first, the second infection on US soil concerned a caregiver for a Liberian Ebola patient who died at a Dallas hospital earlier this month.
The worker came down with a fever on Tuesday and was isolated at the hospital right away, amid dire predictions that thousands of new infections were possible in the worst-hit west African countries before year’s end.
“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said.
The Centres for Disease and Prevention (CDC) said the positive test came from a preliminary analysis and that it was carrying out its own test to confirm the result.
Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called the second infection “unacceptable.”
The worst Ebola outbreak on record has claimed 4,447 lives, out of 8,914 recorded cases since the start of the year, most of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“Ebola got a head start on us,” Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, told the United Nations Security Council by remote link from Ghana Tuesday.
“It is far ahead of us, it is running faster than us, and it is winning the race,” he said.
The World Health Organisation said Tuesday the infection rate could reach 10,000 a week in a worst-case scenario.
US President Barack Obama was to participate in a video conference with his British, French, German, and Italian counterparts Wednesday to discuss the global response to the epidemic.