A nurse who treated two Ebola patients at a Madrid hospital has become infected with the disease herself, health officials and various sources told media on Monday.
The 44-year-old woman is the first person to actually contract the disease outside of West Africa. Other cases in Spain – or more recently, the US – have been the result of individuals contracting the disease on the African continent and then traveling abroad.
“Two tests were done and the two were positive,” a spokesman for the health department of the regional government of Madrid told AFP.
According to El Pais, the hospital activated emergency protocols and isolated the nurse.
A preliminary assessment indicated that the nurse had contracted the virus before the final announcement was made on Monday.
The nurse had been involved in the treatment of an elderly, missionary priest, Manuel Garcia Viejo, who had been in Sierra Leone and was taken to Madrid’s Hospital Carlos III in September. She was part of the team that treated the priest who died of Ebola on 25 September.
Back in August another Spanish priest, Miguel Pajares, aslo died after contracting the virus in Liberia.
The news comes as scientists release an estimate that there’s a 75 percent chance the Ebola virus could spread to France and a 50 percent chance it could reach the UK before November begins.
“If this thing continues to rage on in West Africa and indeed gets worse, as some people have predicted, then it’s only a matter of time before one of these cases ends up on a plane to Europe,” expert in viruses from Britain’s Lancaster University, Derek Gatherer, said.