NIH Says Dallas Nurse Nina Pham Is Ebola-Free

Dallas health worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan tests positive for Ebola

(RxWiki News) A Texas health worker who treated the first Ebola patient diagnosed on US soil has tested positive for Ebola in Dallas.

Update (10/24/2014): "Our patient Nina Pham is free of Ebola virus," said Anthony Fauci, MD, PhD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at this morning's NIH press conference. Pham also spoke to reporters and thanked her health care team. She also thanked Dr. Kent Brantly for donating his blood as part of her treatment. "Although I no longer have Ebola, it may take a while before I have my strength back," Pham said. She asked for her and her family's privacy as she returns to normal life in Texas.

Update (10/24/2014): The National Institutes of Health (NIH) declared that Nina Pham no longer has the Ebola virus. NIH officials will hold a press conference later this morning about Pham's discharge.

Update (10/22/2014): The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a statement announcing that Nina Pham's health has improved.

"NIH has received countless inquiries and expressions of support for Ms. Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who was admitted to the NIH Clinical Center Special Clinical Studies Unit on Thursday, October 16, with Ebola virus disease. The NIH Clinical Center staff has shared the general sentiments with her and Ms. Pham has expressed her gratitude for everyone’s concerns and well wishes," NIH said. "Ms. Pham’s clinical status has been upgraded from fair to good."

Update (10/16/2014): CNN reports that Nina Pham, the first nurse infected with Ebola after treating a Liberian man who died last week, will be transported to a National Institutes of Health facility in Maryland. She is currently being treated in Dallas, TX, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital — the same hospital where she cared for Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan and contracted Ebola.

Update (10/13/2014): US health authorities said the Ebola diagnosis of this Texas health worker signals a breach in safety procedures. According to the Associated Press, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said that the health worker has not been able to identify when the breach might have happened. The CDC is looking into the possible ways the worker got infected. The agency will consider how the worker administered kidney dialysis and respiratory intubation, two procedures that can spread infected bodily fluids, as well as how the worker removed protective gear. "A single inadvertent slip can result in contamination," Dr. Frieden said at a news briefing.

Update (10/13/2014): Dallas TV broadcaster WFAA has identified the infected health worker as 26-year-old Nina Pham. Pham is the first person to contract Ebola in the United States. According to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, she is in "clinically stable" condition. Reuters reported that Frieden also apologized for his earlier statements suggesting that Pham was responsible for the infection by breaking protocol. Other health experts argued that Frieden's comments did not account for the large gaps in training hospital staff on how to deal with Ebola.

Update (10/14/2014): Nina Pham has received a blood transfusion from Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, according to NBC News. The blood of an Ebola survivor like Dr. Brantly contains antibodies to the virus. The blood transfusion is intended to give Pham's immune system a boost to fight the Ebola virus. Pham is not the first to receive a blood transfusion from Dr. Brantly, who contracted Ebola in July while working in Liberia. Dr. Brantly also gave blood to treat Dr. Rick Sacra, another American health worker who got Ebola while in Liberia, and Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance camera operator who fell ill with the virus while covering the outbreak in West Africa.

The unidentified worker cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was diagnosed with Ebola and died Oct. 8.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee reported a low fever Friday and was placed in isolation, according to a statement from the hospital.

"We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services in a statement. "We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread." 

The New York Times reports that the health worker wore protective gear when treating Duncan, but details about the treatment and contact are murky. The new patient — a nurse, reports CNN — is reportedly in stable condition.

Initial testing of the worker was positive for Ebola, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will conduct further testing to confirm, according to the hospital statement.

Meanwhile, health officials are assessing people who may have come into contact with the second patient after symptoms began to show.

Ebola virus disease, the often fatal disease caused by the Ebola virus, is not contagious until patients show symptoms. Symptoms include a high fever, severe headache, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. The virus is only contagious through contact with infected bodily fluids.

Review Date: 
October 12, 2014