WASHINGTON: A Texas health care worker has become the first person to contract Ebola on American soil, authorities confirmed Sunday, sparking jitters that safety precautions taken by medical staff could be insufficient.
Top US health officials have said a breach of protocol was to blame for the new Ebola patient — the second person infected outside Africa and the second diagnosed in the United States.
The news deals a blow to global efforts to stem the epidemic, which has already claimed more than 4,000 lives, most of them in the hard-hit West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“This development is understandably disturbing news for the patient, the patient’s family and colleagues and the greater Dallas community,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
But the CDC insisted that any further spread into the community surrounding the Dallas hospital “can be prevented with proper public health measures.”
Earlier, the agency’s chief Thomas Frieden said it was clear that “at some point there was a breach in protocol and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection.”
The CDC has launched a probe, as well as a hunt for more health care workers who may have been exposed to the dangerous virus.
US President Barack Obama said that federal authorities should take “immediate additional steps” to make sure hospitals were ready to follow protocols designed for Ebola patients, according to the White House.