8 Oct, 2014 @ 11:24
1 min read

UPDATE: Hospital staff blame first European Ebola case on substandard equipment

MADRID health professionals are blaming a failure to follow protocols and substandard equipment for Europe’s first case of Ebola.

A Spanish nurse at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital has twice tested positive for the disease in the first case of Ebola outside west Africa.

It is believed she contracted the disease while treating a patient repatriated from Sierra Leone, who died four days after his repatriation on September 20.

She was also part of the team attending to a second missionary, who was repatriated from Liberia in August, who died five days after his repatriation in August.

Her husband has also now been admitted to hospital for testing, as well as a second nurse from the same team that treated both repatriated Ebola victims.

Staff at Madrid’s Carlos III hospital are blaming the protective suits they were given, which they claim did not meet standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO specifies that the suits must be impermeable and include breathing apparatus, but staff insisted that they did not have their own breathing equipment.

Latex gloves secured with adhesive tape were also highlighted as an example of how the suits were not impermeable.

Staff also complained that waste from the rooms of both patients was removed in the personnel elevator and, in the case of the second patient, the hospital was not evacuated.

The European Commission has written to the Spanish health minister demanding ‘clarification’ on how the infection was able to spread when all EU member states were supposed to have taken measures to prevent transmission.

Commission spokesperson Frederic Vincent said: “There is obviously a problem somewhere.”

But Spain’s health authorities insist the staff would have followed WHO protocols.

Antonio Alemany, from the regional government of Madrid, said the nurse would have entered Garcia Viejo’s room only two times, and would have always been wearing protective equipment.

“We don’t know yet what failed,” added Alemany. “We are investigating the mechanism of infection.”

The nurse was first tested at the Alcorcon hospital – on the outskirts of Madrid – before being transferred to Carlos III early on Tuesday morning.

“We are drawing up a list of all the people she may have been in contact with, including with health professionals at the Alcorcon hospital,” added Alemany.

Health authorities are monitoring more than 50 possible contacts of the nurse.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, the regional director of the WHO in Europe, said that Ebola would ‘most likely’ spread, but the continent is well prepared to control it.

“It will happen,” she said. “But the most important thing in our view is that Europe is still at low risk and that the western part of the European region particularly is the best prepared in the world to respond to viral haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola.”

Imogen Calderwood

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  1. Gaffa taping some gloves on – sounds about right for Spain. Unbelievable incompetence, and yet we are constantly fed this dribble about how Spain has the best health system in Europe etc. The health minister needs to be sacked, and Rajoy should resign.

  2. Fred. Mistakes have been made in handling the Ebola cases and hospitals are not prepared or equipped for it. But do you think the UK NHS is any better prepared? I don’t think so. As for what you call the “dribble about Spain having the best health service in Europe,” statistics show Spain does have the best cancer survival rate so it can’t be as bad as you suggest.

  3. Yes, Steve, the NHS is better prepared. There are at least 2 hospitals in the UK which meet bio-safety level 4 requirements. There are none in Spain. The best Spain can offer is BSL-3, which is not good enough for Ebola

  4. Steve, seriously, this is a major health issue, perhaps unparalleled since HIV/AIDS. Spain didn’t even have an emergency protocol in place. Not sure why you are going off-topic bringing the UK into this. It is times like this that a health service is judged on these sorts of cases, where this is potential for a massive outbreak, and on that it failed. The UK is now screening airports and Eurostar etc. Is Spain?

  5. From Africas states with Ebola is a good start. I am not English as you might be but Spain have 1 person and Africa 4000 dead and maybe 7000 infectet. We must concentrate on the big problem dominators and not on a single at the moment.

  6. UK has stopped direct flights from Liberia. I hope more Countries are added soon. Countries who show that they have no control will become no go zones and face financial hardship. I have booked flights for my upcoming holidays, two of them are for next year, one to Rome and another annual Summer booking to Spain. Hopefully all will not be out of control by then otherwise I will cancel them.

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