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Nurse In Spain Infected With Ebola Virus

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Nurse In Spain Infected With Ebola Virus

Europe

Nurse In Spain Infected With Ebola Virus

Nurse In Spain Infected With Ebola Virus

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Spain's health minister confirmed that a nurse who treated two Ebola victims has tested positive for the disease. She is the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Efforts to stop the spread of Ebola have focused on the patients. But increasingly the health care workers themselves are at risk. We're going to spend the next few minutes talking about how to prevent caregivers from getting sick. In a moment, we'll hear how the U.S. is trying to help. But first we go to Spain, where a nurse who was treating Ebola patients is now the first person known to have been infected with the virus outside of Africa. From Madrid, Lauren Frayer reports.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Spain's brush with Ebola started when an elderly Spanish priest caring for patients in West Africa contracted the virus in August. Spaniards mounted a social media campaign to get the government to bring him home for treatment, and it did, but he later died. Last month, Spain brought another infected priest home, and he also died.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANA MATO: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: At the time, Spain's government touted its high-tech ability to treat some of the first Ebola patients to be evacuated from Africa. Spanish TV was airing video of isolation wards and doctors and nurses in protective suits. But last night, that tone abruptly changed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MATO: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: Spain's health minister, Ana Mato, took to live TV to announce that one of the nurses who'd worn those protective suits is now infected.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MATO: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: I want to urge our citizens to remain calm, the health minister said visibly shaken. We followed the protocol, but we don't know how she got infected. The patient is a 40-year-old Spanish nurse who cared for the priests. Dr. Antonio Alemany was in charge of treating the infected priests and now is in charge of treating their nurse.

ANTONIO ALEMANY: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: We know she entered the infected priest's room twice, he said, once to help treat him and once after he died to collect some of his things. As far as we know, she was wearing a protective suit the whole time and didn't have any accidental contact with him. But the nurse came down with a fever a few days after her Ebola patient died, though it took her a week to check into a hospital. Now she's in quarantine - so is her husband and two other people, though they have not tested positive for the virus. More than 50 other people are being monitored, including 21 nurses.

ALEMANY: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: All her coworkers are now having their temperatures taken twice a day, Dr. Alemany said. Meanwhile, unions for Spanish doctors and nurses are calling for an overhaul of safety procedures, saying this nurse should never have been infected. She remains in stable condition with a fever, and officials are still searching for others with whom she had contact. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Madrid.

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