A Spanish nurse has become the first person to contract the Ebola virus outside of West Africa.
The female hospital staffer had helped to treat two priests who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were repatriated to Spain, Reuters reported. Some 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.
The nurse is in a stable condition, health officials said.
Patients are at their most contagious when Ebola is in its terminal stages, inducing both internal and external bleeding, and profuse vomiting and diarrhea — all of which contain high concentrations of infectious virus, according to the news agency.
But the disease can also have a long incubation period — up to 21 days — meaning that people can be unaware for weeks that they are infected, and not feel or display any symptoms, the report said.
The nurse was part of the team who treated elderly priest Manuel Garcia Viejo at the Madrid hospital Carlos III when he was repatriated from Sierra Leone with Ebola on Sept. 21. He died four days later.
Garcia Viejo was kept in isolation during his treatment last month and officials said they followed a strict protocol designed to protect health workers and patients at the hospital.
The nurse who has since fallen ill only entered Garcia Viejo’s room twice, once after his death, Antonio Alemany, the head of Madrid’s primary health care services, told a news conference.
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 Aug. 7 and died five days later.
– Contact us at [email protected]