On 15 October 2014, Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed that a second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had tested positive for Ebola. The disclosure followed news that Nina Pham, a nurse who had cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, had also contracted that disease in the course of her duties. Duncan died of Ebola on 8 October 2014.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did not comment on the second Ebola case among healthcare workers at Texas Presbyterian at the time the story broke. But health officials in Texas said the worker, a female, had presented with an elevated temperature on 14 October 2014. Within 90 minutes, the woman was admitted and hospitalized.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the city is “preparing contingencies for more [Ebola diagnoses] and that is a very real possibility.” NBC News reported 75 hospital employees are being monitored for Ebola symptoms in the wake of Pham’s diagnosis. Jenkins added the city did not plan to enforce any sort of restriction on the workers:
This is not going to be a situation where we’re going to put protective orders on 75 health care workers. The system right now is working. If they have any temperature or any loose stool or any other symptom, they immediately go to isolation in the hospital and they are tested.
Health officials are once again completing “contract tracing” to identify potential exposures in what they say is now a “two-front fight” against the virus. Officials are actively monitoring 75 additional hospital workers, as well as several dozen individuals who may have had contact with Duncan or a close associate outside the hospital. Those who may have been exposed before Duncan’s hospital stay are nearing the end of the monitoring period and are now less likely to show symptoms of the virus.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings commented:
It might get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. The only way we are going to beat this is moment by moment, person by person, detail by detail.
Rawlings said that the female hospital employee’s apartment and car were set to be decontaminated on 15 October 2014.