Ebola reaches Europe
Ebola case rattles Spain, prompts investigation
USA Today | October 7, 2014
Spanish health officials rushed Tuesday to contain the Ebola virus after it got past Europe's defenses, quarantining four people at a Madrid hospital where a nursing assistant was infected.
The first case of Ebola transmitted outside Africa brought heightened concern about safety of health workers, with some complaining of a lack of training and equipment to handle the deadly virus. Spanish opposition parties called for the resignation of Health Minister Ana Mato, and the European Union demanded answers to what went wrong.
The female assistant nurse was part of a medical team that treated Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, who died Sept. 25 at Madrid's Carlos III hospital after contracting Ebola in Sierra Leone.
The nurse was also a member of a medical team that treated another Spanish priest who earlier died from Ebola, but it's believed she contracted the virus from Viejo.
The nurse has not been named. Spanish media said she is around 40 years old and only went into Viejo's room twice — once to directly assist in his care, another time to clean his room after he died. On both occasions she was wearing special protective clothing.
She is the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside of West Africa. Health officials described her condition as stable.
The woman, who is married and has no children, went on vacation the day after Viejo died. On Sunday, she checked into a public hospital in the Madrid suburb of Alcorcon with a fever and was placed in isolation. She was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday.
The nurse's husband and a second nurse are being quarantined. A man who arrived on a flight from Nigeria has also been quarantined, Spanish health authorities said.
Madrid's regional government got a court order to euthanize and incinerate the mixed-breed dog, Excalibur, that was the pet of the infected woman and her husband.
Spanish authorities were tracking down all the woman's contacts, and put more than 50 other people under observation, including her relatives and fellow health care workers.
"The priority now is to establish that there is no risk to anybody else," Spanish emergency coordinator Fernando Simon said.
Shares of Spanish airline and hotel chain companies slumped in trading. Spain is Europe's biggest vacation destination after France, and investors were concerned the deadly virus could scare away travelers.
Antonio Alemany, Madrid's director of primary health care, told reporters Tuesday that the woman had no symptoms besides the fever and that authorities were drawing up a list of people the nurse had contact with so they can be monitored.
He did not say where she spent her vacation, nor did he specify whether health authorities are checking people with whom she came into contact on vacation.
Labels: Health Crisis