WATCH ABOVE: The CDC says it will issue stricter guidelines to protect health care workers treating Ebola patients.
WASHINGTON – Revised guidance for health care workers treating Ebola patients will include using protective gear “with no skin showing,” a top federal health official said Sunday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said those caring for an Ebola patient in Dallas were left vulnerable because some of their skin was exposed.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working on revisions to safety protocols.
Ebola’s incubation period is 21 days, and Fauci noted that mark was being reached Sunday for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital workers who first treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who later died of the disease.
“The ones now today that are going to be ‘off the hook’ are the ones that saw him initially in the emergency room,” Fauci said.
Duncan was seen at the hospital on Sept. 26 and sent home with antibiotics. He returned by ambulance on Sept. 28, was admitted and died of Ebola on Oct. 8.
Judge Clay Jenkins, the chief executive in Dallas County, said that the protective order that has kept Duncan’s family isolated expires Sunday at midnight.
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“That’s going to be a good thing for those families. They’ve been through so much, and we’re very happy about that,” Jenkins said.
But, Jenkins continued, “At the same time, we’re extremely concerned about these health care workers and we continue to make contingency in the event that there are more cases.”
Jenkins called the 75 health workers who cared for Duncan “hometown health care heroes,” and said they had signed agreements with the state’s public health commissioner to stay off public transportation.
He said if any other health workers test positive for Ebola, a plan is in place that includes:
- All intake will be done at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
- Ambulances have been instructed to bring anyone with a history of West Africa travel and a fever to that hospital.
- Those found to be infected will be transferred by air ambulance to one of three national health centres set up to handle very risky germs, or by ground ambulance to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which has the capability of disposing of the “copious waste” that Ebola cases generate.
- If a large number of cases surface, a triage unit at another, undisclosed location will be set up in the next 24 hours, with isolation units. The location was to be announced later Sunday.
Fauci appeared on ABC television’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” Jenkins was on ABC.