Spanish nurse becomes first person to contract Ebola outside Africa

Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato listens to a question during a news conference Oct. 6 in Madrid. A Spanish nurse who treated two priests for Ebola at a hospital there has tested positive for the virus.
(Paul White / Associated Press)
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A Spanish nurse who helped care for two priests infected with Ebola has tested positive for the virus, the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the current epidemic.

The nurse was part of a team at Carlos III Hospital in Madrid that cared for 69-year-old Manuel Garcia Viejo, who died of Ebola on Sept. 25 after contracting the virus in Sierra Leone, Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato told reporters Monday.

A Norwegian national working for Doctors Without Borders in the Sierra Leone city of Bo has also tested positive for Ebola, the international aid group said Monday. The patient, who was not identified, is the group’s second international staff member to become infected in West Africa.


The Spanish health worker began feeling ill Sept. 30 while on vacation. She was admitted to a hospital in Alcorcon, near Madrid, on Sunday with a high fever, Mato said. Two tests were conducted, and both were positive for Ebola.

Spanish authorities did not identify the woman but said she was married and did not have children.

Health authorities are trying to determine how she contracted the virus, as safety protocols were in place at the Madrid hospital to prevent its spread, Mato said. They included the use of coveralls, two pairs of gloves and goggles, El Pais newspaper reported. [Link in Spanish]

Ebola is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of patients who have developed symptoms of the virus.

Another Spanish missionary, Miguel Pajares, 75, was infected with Ebola while working in a hospital in Liberia and died Aug. 12.

They are among more than 3,400 people believed to have been killed by the virus in West Africa since March. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the hardest-hit countries.


The Norwegian aid worker was placed in isolation Sunday and will be transferred to a specialized center in Europe for treatment, Doctors Without Borders said in a statement. The group is one of the main agencies caring for Ebola patients and has nearly 3,000 staff members in the region.

Last week, a Liberian man became the first person to be diagnosed with the virus in the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, remained in critical condition Monday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Meanwhile, a video journalist infected with the virus in Liberia arrived for treatment Monday at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Ashoka Mukpo, 33, was working as a freelance cameraman for NBC News when he became ill last week.

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