World / Science & Health

Nurse diagnosed with Ebola at Madrid hospital believed first not to catch virus in Africa


A Spanish nurse has been diagnosed with Ebola at the Madrid hospital where two patients have been treated for the viral illness, in what is the first case of a person becoming infected outside of Africa.

The government is taking action to keep doctors and staff safe at Hospital Carlos III, and is investigating how the woman became infected, Health Minister Ana Mato said at a news conference in Madrid. The hospital was designated by the government to treat Ebola cases, and the nurse treated Manuel Garcia, a priest who died of Ebola last month.

“All measures have been taken to give the best care to the patient, and guarantee the safety of all citizens,” Mato said. “We are working to know what the source of the infection was.”

The patient’s husband is being monitored, and officials are compiling a list of everyone who had contact with the woman, officials said. Thirty medical workers are being monitored, they said.

The diagnosis adds a new dimension to the Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 3,400 people, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. A Liberian man is hospitalized with the virus in Dallas after traveling there from the Liberian capital Monrovia, the first time the virus has been inadvertently carried out of Africa in the almost 40 years since it was discovered.

Aid workers who have fallen ill have been evacuated to Spain, France, Germany, the U.S. and Norway for treatment, raising concern about secondary infections of health workers.

“The concern in European hospitals where there’s good infection control is minimal,” David Heymann, professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said in a telephone interview. “It may spread to a few people at the start, but it shouldn’t go further. I don’t anticipate any major outbreaks in Europe.”

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