Most of the attention surrounding Ebola has thus far centered on its spread in West Africa, and now in the U.S. But at least four individuals in Europe, Spain to be specific, are being closely monitored after one of them, a nurse, tested positive for the viral disease.
The 40-year-old healthcare worker is the first, but probably not the last, person in Europe to contract the disease during this current outbreak, reports Boston.com. And the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European director, Zsuzsanna Jakab, says its continued spread across Europe is inevitable.
The woman who contracted the virus, her husband and two others have been admitted to a hospital for monitoring, and others will likely join them in the coming days.
“Such imported cases and similar events as have happened in Spain will happen also in the future, most likely,” stated Jakab to Reuters. “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.”
Europe’s health workers at highest risk of Ebola
In Jakab’s view, health workers in general are most prone to contracting Ebola, as they come into direct contact with individuals from all over the world. The virus has clearly breached the regional borders of West Africa and is now slowly making its way from country to country, and from continent to continent.
“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 haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola,” she added, as quoted by The Independent.
22 additional people who came into contact with nurse now being monitored
According to reports, the nurse began to develop symptoms not long after treating two Spanish missionaries who had previously been serving in West Africa. About one week before she was officially diagnosed as having Ebola, she reportedly fell ill, the symptoms of which included a low-grade fever.
When the nurse checked herself into a hospital, care workers tested her for Ebola and arrived at a positive diagnosis. At least one other health worker she came into contact with has also reportedly developed Ebola symptoms — diarrhea, but no fever — prompting health officials to include another 22 individuals for monitoring.
“[These 22 individuals] have not been isolated but they are having their temperature taken twice a day to check for signs of infection,” explains The Independent.
We don’t know how nurse got infected, say officials
How the nurse actually caught Ebola is still unknown, however. Experts say that infection should not have occurred at all, since the hospital is supposedly equipped with all the proper tools for protection. This particular strain, in other words, must have the ability to transmit in other ways.
“It will be crucial to find out what went wrong in this case so necessary measures can be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” stated Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, noting that containment and control measures should have been an effective safeguard.
Elsewhere in Europe, a Norwegian doctor is now being treated for Ebola after having contracted it while working in Sierra Leone. The man recently arrived in Norway for treatment and is staying in an isolation ward at Oslo University Hospital.
daily alternative | alternative news – Ebola pandemic spreading across Europe is ‘unavoidable,’ WHO warns