Europe probes Spanish Ebola transmission | NRS-Import | DW | 08.10.2014
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Europe probes Spanish Ebola transmission

Brussels has said it will investigate procedures at a Spanish hospital where Ebola was transmitted from a patient. Contacts of the infected nurse are being monitored for signs of the deadly disease.

European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said Spanish health authorities would give regular updates about how a Spanish nurse came to contract Ebola from a patient. A special meeting of the EU's Health Security Committee is set to take place in Brussels on Wednesday.

"Our priority... is to know exactly what happened," said Vincent, adding that the hospital in question was supposed to "respect all the rules - which are very strict - aimed at avoiding this type of contamination."

Wednesday's meeting will see representatives of EU member states briefed by health experts, including those from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The European Commission on Monday sent a letter to the Spanish Health Minister "to obtain some clarification" about what had happened.

Symbolbild - Ebola Virus

The virus has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa

While Spanish authorities claim they are still not certain how the virus was allowed to spread, medical staff unions have complained that staff were not adequately trained.

The head of Madrid's Carlos III hospital, Rafael Perez-Santamaria, said experts were "revising our protocols."

Spanish officials say the nurse began to feel ill on September 30 while she was on leave after treating Spanish priests Miguel Pajares and Manuel Garcia Viejo. Both men were repatriated from Sierra Leone and later died. The nurse is believed to have been the first person to have contracted the disease outside Africa.

Risk of naivety

Spanish officials said they are monitoring 52 people - mostly health staff - who came into contact with the nurse before she was isolated on Monday.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Ebola-Patient 01.10.2014

A patient being treated in Dallas was the first to be diagnosed in the US

"It would be very naive to think that there is no possibility of contagion," Spain's health emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

The Madrid regional government on Tuesday obtained a court order to euthanize the nurse's dog, saying "available scientific information" could not rule out a risk of the animal spreading the virus.

In all, nearly 7,500 people have been infected with the Ebola virus in West Africa, with more than 3,400 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which are at the centre of the epidemic.

In Dallas, Texas, health officials are also monitoring the health of 48 people who may have had contact with Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, the first person to have been diagnosed with the disease outside Africa.

rc/jm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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