US establishing ‘Ebola response teams’ to contain epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that “Ebola response teams” are being assembled that will be able to deploy “within hours” to any hospital in the United States.

“For any hospital anywhere in the country that has a confirmed case of Ebola, we will put a team on the ground within hours,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the group’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

The US response to the spread of Ebola came under harsh criticism after a Liberian national was sent home from a Dallas, Texas hospital despite demonstrating symptoms of the disease and informing medical staff that he had recently traveled to West Africa. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, eventually was re-hospitalized and received treatment for Ebola. However, he died more than a week later. Now one of the nurses who treated him, Nina Pham, has tested positive for the disease and officials in Dallas are on high alert for other cases. Pham was in “clinically stable” condition as of Monday this week.

Seventy-six individuals who cared for Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US, are being closely monitored, Frieden said at Tuesday’s conference, but they have yet to demonstrate any symptoms of the deadly disease that has only recently reached America.

Frieden warned more than two months ago that American travelers would “inevitably” spread the disease to the US and, that same month, an inspector’s general report concluded that the Department of Homeland Security “has no assurance it has sufficient personal protective equipment and antiviral medical countermeasures for a pandemic response.”

At Tuesday’s presser, Frieden said CDC officials have yet to determine what “specific interaction” between Duncan and Pham led to the nurse contracting the disease. Meanwhile, thousands of other health workers across the US have launched several social media campaigns to show their support for the nurse. A “Nurses for Nina” group has been liked by more than 4,500 accounts on Facebook, Reuters reported on Tuesday, as similar groups sprout up across the web.

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