Accessibility links

New US Ebola Case Raises Fears

U.S. health officials are scrambling to respond to a new Ebola case - that of a nurse in Dallas, Texas, who cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week.

America’s medical community is reviewing and tightening protocols to detect and contain the virus, as officials around the world express growing alarm about the deadly disease.

Hazardous materials workers cleaned out the apartment of a Dallas nurse, said to be in her 20s, who tested positive for Ebola. Neighbors are unnerved.

Extensive protective gear and rigorous hospital protocols designed to prevent transmission of the virus evidently failed, prompting many questions but few answers. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden cannot rule out even more cases being detected. He told CBS "Face the Nation" TV program that there was clearly "a breach in protocol."

“We know from many years of experience that it is possible to care for patients with Ebola safely without risk to health care workers," he said. "But we also know that it is hard, that even a single breach can result in contamination.”

Amid the finger-pointing, a complaint from an American nurses association. Katy Roemer says nurses are not getting the information they need to protect themselves.

“When the nurses become infected, they are blamed for not following the protocols," she said. "This is not going to work.”

Major U.S. airports have strengthened health screening procedures for passengers arriving from Africa. That may not be enough, according to Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, who does not rule out temporarily halting U.S. visas granted in parts of Africa.

“The American people are rightfully concerned," he said. "They are concerned because the Ebola virus is an unseen threat. And it is only a plane flight away from our shores."

Mounting fears extend beyond countries that have registered Ebola cases. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“This is a global epidemic," he said. "We are cooperating with other countries, in addition to preserving our borders.”

But panic is unwarranted and unhelpful, according to Dr. Ian Smith of the World Health Organization.

“Fear of infection has spread around the world much faster than the virus,” he cautioned.

Amid mounting anxieties, some possible good news: Russian health officials say they have developed vaccines against Ebola that are ready for testing.