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Spanish Nurse Is First to Contract Ebola Outside Africa

Liberian man in Texas still in critical condition

According to a report from Reuters, a Spanish nurse has become the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa, casting doubt over measures taken in Spain to control the potential spread of the deadly disease.

The nurse had helped to treat two priests who contracted Ebola in Africa and were repatriated to Spain. Approximately 30 other health workers and those who came in contact with her are now being monitored for symptoms.

Both priests died shortly after reaching Spain. Each had worked in West Africa, where an epidemic of Ebola has spread through Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia since March, killing more than 3,400 people in the largest outbreak of the disease in history. Cases have also reached Senegal and Nigeria.

Spanish officials said they still had to find out how the nurse contracted the viral infection, which causes fever and bleeding.

She was one of a specialist team who treated elderly priest Manuel Garcia Viejo at a Madrid hospital when he was repatriated from Sierra Leone with Ebola on September 21. He died 4 days later.

The nurse who has since fallen ill entered Garcia Viejo’s room only twice, once after his death.

Health authorities said she had also helped treat Miguel Pajares, who had been working in Liberia when he came down with the disease. He was airlifted back to Spain on August 7 and died 5 days later.

Scientists tracking the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and analyzing air traffic data have predicted a high risk of a case being imported unwittingly into Europe before the end of this month.

The first Ebola case to be diagnosed in the U.S. was identified last week in Texas in a man who arrived from Liberia. Health officials say the man is now in critical condition.

Source: Reuters; October 7, 2014.

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