Spanish Nurse Contracts Ebola after Treating Repatriated Patient in Madrid

by Brendan Bordelon

A Spanish nurse tested positive for Ebola after treating an infected Spanish missionary in a Madrid hospital, in what appears to be the first case of the virus contracted outside of west Africa.

The Guardian reports that the woman tended to elderly missionary Manuel García Viejo after he was returned from Sierra Leone to Madrid for treatment on September 21. The care was ultimately unsuccessful, and Viejo died of Ebola four days after arriving at Carlos III hospital. Another missionary also succumbed to the virus at the same hospital back in August.

The woman arrived at a separate Madrid hospital on Monday morning, suffering from a high fever. Two separate tests confirmed the nurse’s diagnosis, Spanish health officials said. 

Unlike in the United States, officials in Spain expressed concern over their health system’s ability to prevent and contain infection. The leader of doctor’s union Amyts worried last month that there was little guarantee that the virus would not escape, particularly since the bio-safety levels in Spanish hospitals are low and few facilities offer any kind of effective containment technology.  

On Friday the U.S. nurses’ union National Nurses United surveyed 400 nurses in more than 200 hospitals nationwide. Sixty percent claimed their hospital was not prepared to handle Ebola patients, and 80 percent said administrators had failed to adequately instruct them on how to handle possible Ebola cases. 

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