Feds Enact Tougher Standards as Nurses Contract Ebola

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is strengthening safety standards now that two Dallas health care workers have tested positive for the Ebola virus.

(UPDATE: CDC and Frontier Airlines Announce Passenger Notification Underway.)

"The existence of the first case of Ebola spread within the U.S.  changes some things and it doesn't change other things," CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, said during an Oct. 13 media briefing. "It doesn't change the fact that we know how Ebola spreads.  It doesn't change the fact that it's possible to take care of Ebola safely.  But it does change substantially how we approach it.  We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control, because even a single infection is unacceptable."

The three changes Dr. Frieden announced on Oct. 14 are:

  1. A manager to oversee infection control "every hour of the day."
  2. More training for health care workers — "ongoing, refresher, repeat training, including by two nurses from Emory who cared for Ebola patients."
  3. A limit on the number of staff providing care directly to patients with Ebola "so that they can become more familiar and more systematic in how they put on and take off protective equipment and they can become more comfortable in a healthy way with providing care in the isolation unit."

"We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility," Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner David Lakey, MD, said. "We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread." 

If you need help immediately:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Dallas County Health and Human Services have issued numerous bulletins, guidelines, and other materials to help physicians and health care workers respond to the Ebola outbreak. We have organize them for your ease of use.

Health officials have interviewed the two workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures, according to DSHS. People who had contact with them after symptoms emerged will be monitored based on the nature of their interactions and their potential exposure to the virus.  

A total of 76 people at the hospital might have had exposure to the initial patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, and all of them are being monitored for fever and other symptoms daily, Dr. Frieden said.

On Oct., 8, Mr. Duncan, the first known person to develop Ebola in the United States, died at Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Lakey released this statement about Mr. Duncan's passing:

"The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal. They lost a dear member of their family. They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts. The doctors, nurses and staff at Presbyterian provided excellent and compassionate care, but Ebola is a disease that attacks the body in many ways. We'll continue every effort to contain the spread of the virus and protect people from this threat."

Dallas Health and Human Resources, CDC, and DSHS staff have monitored all of Mr. Duncan's known community contacts daily. As of Oct. 13, none of them had developed a fever or shown other signs of the disease.

Visit the CDC Ebola website and the TMA website for the most updated information on the Ebola response. 

Action, Oct. 15, 2014

Last Updated On

June 17, 2016