7 Oct 2014

A sad entry into Ebola’s history books

A Spanish nurse has tested positive for Ebola after helping treat a missionary doctor who was repatriated to Madrid last month.

The missionary died of Ebola fever 11 days ago. And today the nurse sadly entered the record books as the first person in history to contract Ebola outside of Africa.

The news is worrying for authorities in Spain and other developed countries who are closely monitoring the growing Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

It was assumed that highly trained and well-equipped healthcare workers in rich countries were at much lower risk of contracting Ebola. Health officials in Spain are now trying to establish how the nurse, who followed strict protocols like the rest of the 30-strong team treating the patient, became infected.

The nurse entered the patient’s room only twice. Once when he was being treated and once after he died.

The nurse had been on leave since the patient died on 25 September and efforts are now being made to trace contacts she may have had.

However, the biology of Ebola makes experts hope it’s unlikely she passed it on to others.

People are thought to only become infectious once the more advanced symptoms of the disease occur – like vomiting and diarrhoea.

The team treating the sick patient were all asked to check their temperature twice daily for 21 days. When she developed a fever on 30 September she took herself to hospital.

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