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Ebola Spreads to Another US Citizen, Stays Contained

Oct 13, 2014 04:05 PM EDT

A United States health worker has tested positive for the Ebola virus, making them the first US citizen to contract the infection and the second person to come down with symptoms while in the country. Still, experts are quick to note that the victim was caring for the first US case, and the disease is likely still contained.

"The healthcare worker, who provided care for the Dallas index patient, was isolated soon after symptoms started and remains so now," the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a recent statement.

The "index patient" in question was Eric Duncan - the first US citizen to come down with symptoms of the deadly infection while in the United States. Duncan was immediately isolated after he sought medical care for Ebola-like symptoms two days after first falling ill, but a number of healthcare workers still had made contact with the man, whose infection was confirmed by the CDC on Sept. 30. At this point, anyone who may have been in contact with the patient was subject to testing and possible quarantine.

Initial investigations revealed that Duncan had just returned from West Africa, where an Ebola pandemic is ongoing.

Unfortunately, Ebola boasts a fatality rate of 50 to 90 percent, and despite the best US efforts, he died soon after being admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

CDC director Tom Frieden recently announced that this latest infection is a second case directly stemming from Duncan's infection.

"We don't know what occurred in the care of the index patient, the original patient in Dallas, but at some point there was a breach in protocol and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection," he said.

Freiden added, however, that the infected worker, an unnamed woman, was well aware of her situation and took precautions to prevent additional exposures.

"The individual was self-monitoring and immediately on developing symptoms as appropriate she contacted the health care system, and when she came in, she was promptly isolated," he explained. "It appears at this time there's only one contact that may have had contact with her while she may have been infectious. That individual is under active monitoring."

"Breaking the link in the chain of transmission is the key to preventing further spread," Frieden added. "That's how we have stopped every Ebola outbreak in history except the one currently in West Africa. That's how we stopped it in Lagos, Nigeria. That's how we will stop it in Dallas."

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