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CDC May Not Identify Breach In Protocol Leading To Nurse's Ebola Infection

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The director of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden said federal and state health officials still haven't determined the breach in protocol that led to nurse Nina Pham contracting Ebola. Dr. Frieden said they may not be able to figure that out.

Pham, 26, helped treat the first patient who was diagnosed with the virus, Thomas Duncan, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He died October 8.

During a news conference Tuesday, CBS 11 News asked Dr. Frieden what they're doing to try to pinpoint the breach. He replied, "The way we do that is review in great detail everything that occurred. She was terrific at assisting our investigators by going through the steps so we can all try to learn together how to keep health care workers safer against the virus. It's something that we don't always come to a conclusion."


Texas Health Services Commissioner Dr. David Lakey added, "There's no specific error that has been identified, I think. We are looking very closely at the protocols and how we can maximize the ability to contain the virus. There's been no identified item at this time."

On Tuesday, the hospital announced Pham is now in good condition one day after receiving plasma from Fort Worth doctor Kent Brantly who survived Ebola. The hospital also announced care and treatment for Pham is covered, so that she and her family won't face a financial burden after their ordeal.

Pham released a statement through the hospital stating: "I'm doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers. I am blessed by the support of family and friends and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world here at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas."

Complete Coverage Of Ebola In North Texas

To prevent further spread of Ebola at the hospital, Dr. Frieden announced he has sent his most experienced team to Dallas. He said the experts have not only worked on, but stopped Ebola outbreaks in Africa. The team has already made changes at the Texas Health Presbyterian. Changes include identifying an infection control chief who makes sure any health care worker treating Pham is wearing and removing their personal protective gear properly.

The CDC has also brought in two nurses from Emory University Hospital who have treated Ebola patients. They will help train employees at the hospital. From now on, the CDC director said he will send a "go-team" immediately to any hospital in the U.S. caring for a patient confirmed to have Ebola.

Dr. Frieden said that may have helped in the city. "I wish we had put a team like this on the ground, the day the fist patient was diagnosed. That might have prevented that infection."
The CDC has now identified 76 health care workers at the hospital who cared for Duncan. Frieden said they're being monitored and are doing well.

Dr. Frieden also had encouraging news about the 48 people who came in contact with Duncan -- before he was isolated at the hospital. "They have passed more than 14 days and while it is not impossible that some of them would develop the disease, they've passed through the highest risk period. And, it's decreasingly likely that any of them will develop Ebola."

On Tuesday, Dallas County officials announced their response to the two cases has cost more than $1 million. Commissioners Court Judge Clay Jenkins said they expect to be reimbursed by the federal and state governments.

County Health Director, Zachary Thompson told commissioners the CDC is considering approving the Dallas county lab to conduct testing for Ebola. Thompson said that would produce quicker results and save county staff time from driving down to Austin to have a lab there conduct the tests.

Judge Jenkins praised Pham. "Nina is a hero who knew the risk of catching a disease when she went into a life of service to help people who have these sort of viruses, and did it anyway."

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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