Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Global Impact: More Background on Dallas Nurse Nina Pham, 26

According to The Associated Press, a Dallas nurse, Nina Pham, 26, 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.
Pham was among about 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, according to medical records. They drew his blood, put tubes down his throat and cared for his diarrhea. They analyzed his urine and wiped saliva from his lips, even after he had lost consciousness.

Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people in an outbreak the World Health Organization (WHO) has called "the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times." Federal health officials say they are ramping up training for medical workers who deal with the infected.
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.
Pham and other health care workers wore protective gear, including gowns, gloves, masks and face shields--and often full-body suits--when caring for Duncan, but Pham became the first person to contract the disease the US. Duncan died on October 8. 
On Monday night, members of the church that Pham's family attends held a special Mass for her in Fort Worth. Rev. Jim Khoi, of the Our Lady of Fatima Church, said Pham's mother told him the nurse had received a transfusion that could save her life.
Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the nonprofit medical mission group Samaritan's Purse, confirmed that the plasma donation came from Kent Brantly, the first American to return to the US from Liberia to be treated for Ebola. Brantly received an experimental treatment and fought off the virus, and has donated blood for transfusions for three others, including Pham.
Brantly said in a recent speech that he also offered his blood to Duncan, but that their blood types didn't match.
Khoi said Pham's mother assured him the nurse was comfortable and "doing well," and that the two women had been able to talk via Skype.
Since Pham tested positive for the disease, public-health authorities have intensified their monitoring of other hospital workers who cared for Duncan.
COMMENT: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said he would not be surprised if more fall ill because Ebola patients become more contagious as the disease progresses.
Pham's name appears frequently throughout the hundreds of pages of medical records provided to THE ASSOCIATED PRESS by Duncan's family. They reveal she was in his room October 7, the day before he died.

Pham's notes describe nurses going in and out of Duncan's room wearing protective gear to treat him and to clean the floor with bleach.
The CDC is monitoring all hospital workers who treated Duncan and planned to "double down" on training and outreach on how to safely treat Ebola patients, Frieden said. He could not provide the number of health care workers under surveillance.
Health officials have relied on a "self-monitoring" system when it comes to US health care workers who care for isolated Ebola patients. They expect workers to report any potential exposures to the virus and watch themselves for symptoms.
Besides the workers, health officials continue to track 48 people who were in contact with 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.
Among the things the CDC will investigate is how the workers removed protective gear, because removing it incorrectly can lead to contamination. Investigators will also look at dialysis and intubation--the insertion of a breathing tube in a patient's airway. Both procedures have the potential to spread the virus.
Duncan, who arrived in the US from Liberia September 20, first sought medical care for fever and abdominal pain on September 25. He told a nurse he had traveled from Africa, but he was sent home. He returned September 28 and was placed in isolation because of suspected Ebola.
Officials said there was a dog in the nurse's apartment that has been removed to an undisclosed location for monitoring and care. They do not believe that the pet had any signs of Ebola. A dog belonging to an infected Spanish nurse was euthanized, drawing thousands of complaints.
Ebola has killed in excess of 4,000+ people, mostly in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to WHO figures published last week.

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