WASHINGTON - The government will send a rapid response team to any hospital in the country that diagnoses another Ebola patient, to make sure the local health workers can provide care safely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specialists implementing changes to protect health workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas as it cares for a nurse who became infected while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Tuesday that it's still not clear how the nurse became infected, but that he wished his agency had sent in what he called an "Ebola response team" when Duncan was diagnosed on Sept. 30.
"That might have prevented this infection," he said.
Since Duncan's diagnosis, CDC had been advising the Dallas hospital, which has said it also underwent Ebola training before Duncan's arrival.
But Frieden described the new response team as having some of the world's leading experts in how to care for Ebola and protect health care workers from it. They would be charged with everything from examining how the isolation room is physically laid out, to what protective equipment health workers use, to waste management and decontamination.
If another case is diagnosed, "we will be there, hands-on, within hours," he said.