More than 50 under observation after possible exposure to Ebola

Nursing assistant who contracted virus being treated with antibodies from other patients

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The director of Madrid’s La Paz and Carlos III hospitals, Rafael Pérez-Santamarina, speaks to the press on Tuesday.
The director of Madrid’s La Paz and Carlos III hospitals, Rafael Pérez-Santamarina, speaks to the press on Tuesday.ANA SOFÍA GARCIA (EFE)

The husband of the nursing assistant who was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday has been admitted to hospital and is under observation in isolation, Spanish healthcare chief Mercedes Vinuesa confirmed on Tuesday. The man, whose name has not officially been released but is reported to be Javier L. R., is of greatest concern to the authorities given the close contact he has had with his wife, who has been named as Teresa R. R.

In addition, a man who recently traveled to Spain from Nigeria, and a nurse, who does not have fever but is showing other symptoms, such as diarrhea, are both being monitored by doctors in isolation.

The director of Madrid’s La Paz and Carlos III hospitals, Rafael Pérez-Santamarina, said on Tuesday that the nursing assistant was being treated using antibodies from other patients who had contracted the virus. Doctors are using a serum taken from an anonymous donor with Ebola, and whose body has generated antibodies. Teresa R. R. is also being given anti-viral drugs.

The hospital chief confirmed that all of the protocols that have been observed until now are being revised

Pérez-Santamaría stated that the nursing assistant has been progressing “favorably” this morning. The medical chief added that the patient did not want the media to be informed of her condition, meaning that the hospital will respect her privacy.

The medical chief confirmed that 22 other people are now being monitored after coming into contact with the woman. Most are health workers from Alcorcón Hospital, which is where the patient was taken on Monday after her condition worsened.

The 40-year-old nursing assistant is thought to have contracted the virus while treating Spanish missionary Manuel García Viejo, an Ebola patient who was brought back from Sierra Leone to be treated in the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid. He died from the disease on September 25.

The entire team who took care of the missionary in Carlos III, a total of 30 people, is also being monitored. They will only be given the all-clear from doctors once the virus’s 21-day incubation period has passed.

The infected nursing assistant was said to be progressing “favorably” this morning

The Ebola patient first complained of feeling ill over a week ago, but was not admitted to hospital until Monday. Pérez-Santamaría explained that she had not been admitted the first time because her condition was not thought to be symptomatic of Ebola, despite the fact that she had treated the missionary.

The hospital chief did confirm, however, that all of the protocols that have been observed until now are being revised, and that the failure that led to her infection would not be determined until the investigation was complete.

The serum being used to treat the nurse’s assistant may have been obtained from Paciencia Melgar, a missionary from the Inmaculada Concepción order in Liberia. She worked with the first Spanish priest to die from the virus, Miguel Pajares. Both fell ill at the same time, but Melgar recovered in Liberia while Pajares died after having been repatriated.

Melgar flew to Madrid to treat García Viejo, the second missionary to be repatriated to Spain with the virus. But he died on the day she arrived, meaning the antibody therapy could not be tried.

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