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Thursday 19 October 2017

Infected nurse 'doing well'

Nina Pham, shown in a 2010 photo provided by tcu360.com, the yearbook of Texas Christian University (AP/ Courtesy of tcu360.com)
Nina Pham, shown in a 2010 photo provided by tcu360.com, the yearbook of Texas Christian University (AP/ Courtesy of tcu360.com)
A Protect Environmental worker wears a hazard suit at the home of a Dallas healthcare worker who tested positive for Ebola (AP)

A US nurse who caught Ebola while treating a Liberian patient who died of the disease has received a plasma transfusion donated by a doctor who beat the virus.

Nurse Nina Pham was among about 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, according to medical records.

The 26-year-old nurse was in his room often, from the day he was placed in intensive care until the day before he died.

Ms Pham and other health care workers wore protective gear, including gowns, gloves, masks and face shields - and sometimes full-body suits - when caring for Mr Duncan, but she became the first person to contract the disease within the United States. Mr Duncan died on Wednesday.

The hospital issued a statement on Ms Pham's behalf and a hospital official said doctors and nurses remain hopeful about her recovery.

"I'm doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers," Ms Pham said.

Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the nonprofit medical mission group Samaritan's Purse, confirmed that Ms Pham received a plasma donation from Dr Kent Brantly, the first American to return to the US from Liberia to be treated for Ebola. Dr Brantly received an experimental treatment and fought off the virus, and has donated blood for transfusions for three others, including Ms Pham.

"He's a doctor. That's what he's there to do. That's his heart," Mr Blume said.

Dr Brantly said in a recent speech that he also offered his blood for Mr Duncan, but that their blood types didn't match.

US. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr Tom Frieden said he would not be surprised if more fall ill because Ebola patients become more contagious as the disease progresses.

Dr Frieden has said a breach of protocol led to the nurse's infection, but officials are not sure what went wrong. Ms Pham has not been able to point to any specific breach.

The CDC is monitoring all hospital workers who treated Mr Duncan and planned to "double down" on training and outreach on how to safely treat Ebola patients, Dr Frieden said.

Besides the workers, health officials continue to track 48 people who were in contact with Mr Duncan before he was admitted to the hospital and placed in isolation. They are monitoring one person the nurse was in contact with while she was in an infectious state.

Members of a Texas task force on Ebola have scheduled their first public hearing for next week. They'll develop recommendations and a comprehensive state plan to deal with emerging infectious diseases.

None has exhibited symptoms, Dr Frieden said.

Mr Duncan, who arrived in the US from Liberia on September 20, first sought medical care for fever and abdominal pain on September 25. He told a nurse he had travelled from Africa, but he was sent home. He returned three days later and was placed in isolation because of suspected Ebola.

The Ebola outbreak has hit hardest in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The World Health Organisation said that West Africa could see up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months, confirming the death rate in the current outbreak has risen to 70%.

WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward gave the figures during a news conference in Geneva. Previously, WHO had estimated the Ebola mortality rate was at around 50%.

In Germany, a United Nations medical worker who was infected with Ebola in Liberia has died, the hospital said.

The St Georg hospital in Leipzig said the 56-year-old man, whose name has not been released, died overnight of the infection.

The man tested positive for Ebola on October 6, prompting Liberia's UN peacekeeping mission to place 41 staff members under observation.

Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people - nearly all of them in West Africa - in an outbreak the World Health Organization has called "the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times".

Press Association

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