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Spain monitors four for Ebola

October 7, 2014

Four people have been hospitalized in Spain after a nurse became the first person to contract Ebola in Europe. Now in isolation, the nurse is thought to have caught the virus while treating a missionary in Madrid.

Spanish Ebola hospital staff 7th October
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Paul White

On Tuesday, Spanish health authorities confirmed that a total of four people had been hospitalized in a bid to curb the spread of Ebola.

The first case of Ebola to be contracted outside West Africa was announced by Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato at a press conference on Monday.

The 40-year-old nurse was transferred early on Tuesday to Madrid's Carlos III hospital, where she had helped treat two elderly Spanish missionaries who died of Ebola shortly after being brought home from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A further three people have now been hospitalized, including the nurse's husband, a health worker and a Spaniard who traveled from Nigeria. A total of 30 people who came into contact with the nurse are currently being monitored for symptoms.

Amid growing fears that Ebola could spread, Zsuzsanna Jakab, the Europe director of the World Health Organization, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that "it is quite unavoidable ... that such incidents will happen in the future because of the extensive travel both from Europe to the affected countries and the other way around."

"The most important thing in our view is that Europe is still at low risk and that the western part of the European region particularly is the best prepared in the world to respond to viral hemorrhagic fevers including Ebola," Jakab added.

Lessons to learn

Following Mato's confirmation of the first Ebola case to be contracted outside West Africa, the European Commission, contacted Spain's health minister on Monday "to obtain some clarification" of how the nurse contracted Ebola, despite all the precautions taken. "There is obviously a problem somewhere," Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said.

Despite the case in Spain, commissioners believe that the chance of a European Ebola epidemic "remains highly unlikely," Vincent said, but hope that Spain's experience "may even in some way serve as a lesson for other member states."

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,400 people have died from the hemorrhagic fever since the outbreak began in West Africa in March. Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.

ksb/mkg (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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