Official: 2nd worker isolated within 90 minutes

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DALLAS (AP) — A second health care worker at a Dallas hospital who provided care for the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. has tested positive for the disease, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Wednesday.

The worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was monitoring herself for symptoms, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. The unidentified woman reported a fever Tuesday. She was in isolation within 90 minutes, Jenkins said.

Health officials said the worker was among those who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola after coming to the U.S. from Liberia. Duncan died Oct. 8.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was conducting confirmatory testing of a preliminary Ebola test conducted late Tuesday at a state public health laboratory in Austin, Texas, which came back positive.

Emergency responders in hazardous materials suits began work before dawn Wednesday to decontaminate the Dallas apartment of the second hospital worker. Notices handed out to neighbors, advise them that “a health care worker who lives in your area has tested positive for Ebola.”

It’s not clear how the second health care worker contracted the virus, and authorities declined to say what position she holds at the hospital or the type of care she provided.

“We are looking at every element of our personal protection equipment and infection control in the hospital,” said Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, which operates Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Officials have said they also don’t know how the first health worker, a nurse, became infected. But the second case pointed to lapses beyond how one individual may have donned and removed personal protective garb.

“An additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimize the risk to health care workers and the patient,” the CDC said in a statement.

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