Washington: A "breach in protocol" caused a healthcare worker in Texas to preliminarily test positive for Ebola after treating the first patient with the deadly virus in the US, the director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said.
If the test results are confirmed, the healthcare worker, reportedly a female nurse at Texas Presbyterian Hospital, would be the first known person-to-person transmission of Ebola in the US.
"We are deeply concerned," Xinhua quoted CDC director Tom Frieden as telling in a press conference Sunday.
Frieden said the nurse had "extensive contact" on "multiple occasions" with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola on US soil, who died earlier this week.
"We don`t know what occurred in the care of the index patient -- the original patient in Dallas," said Frieden. "But at some point there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection."
According to the CDC, the health care worker reported a low grade fever and was referred for testing Friday. A preliminary test result done at a state public health laboratory in Austin Saturday showed that the worker contracted the virus.
The confirmation testing at a CDC laboratory will be done later Sunday, Frieden said, adding the preliminary test suggested the level of the Ebola virus "was low" in the blood of the nurse, who has been isolated after her symptoms were reported.
And at this time, only one person may have had contact with the nurse after she became sick, Frieden said.
He cautioned that it is possible the U.S. will see additional cases of Ebola in the coming days.
"This is because the health care workers who cared for this individual may have had a breach of the same nature of the individual who appears now to have a preliminary positive test," Frieden added.
Duncan, a 42-year-old Liberian, arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20 and fell ill several days later. He had already been showing symptoms during his first visit to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Sep 25. But the hospital did not weigh his case until his second visit Sep 28.
Duncan was diagnosed to be the first Ebola patient on US soil Sep 30. He died Wednesday.