|An ambulance with medical staff wearing protective suits and gloves arrives Wednesday at the Madrid apartment of a Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola. (Andres Kudacki/Associated Press)|
Spanish health officials were investigating Wednesday whether a nursing assistant got Ebola by touching her face with Ebola-tainted protective gloves, while Ebola burial teams in Sierra Leone halted a strike that had left abandoned bodies in the streets of the capital.
More than 3,400 people have been killed this year by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia hardest. The case of Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero has highlighted the dangers that Ebola poses for health workers and the fact they can contact it even in sophisticated medical centers in Europe.
In Madrid, Dr. German Ramirez of the Carlos III hospital said Romero remembers she once touched her face with protection gloves after leaving an Ebola victim's quarantine room.
Health officials say Romero twice entered the room of Spanish missionary Manuel Garcia Viejo, who died of Ebola on Sept. 25 — once to change his diaper and again after he died to retrieve unspecified items. Ramirez said Romero believes she touched her face with the glove after her first entry.
"It appears we have found the origin" of Romero's infection, Ramirez said, but he cautioned the investigation was not complete.
Romero is the first person known to have caught the disease outside the outbreak zone in West Africa. She was said to be in stable condition Wednesday. Health authorities in Madrid have faced accusations of not following protocol and poorly preparing health care workers for dealing with Ebola.
In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, Romero said she thought "the mistake was on taking off the suit. I see it as the most critical moment in which it could have happened, but I don't know for sure."
"I haven't got a fever today, I feel somewhat better," she told the newspaper.
In an earlier interview published by Spain's El Mundo newspaper, she had followed safety protocols as part of the team treating two priests infected with Ebola.
Her husband Javier Limon told the same newspaper that his wife went on vacation after Garcia Viejo died. She started feeling sick with a low fever Sept. 30 but still took a career advancement exam with other candidates. Health authorities say she did not leave the Madrid area during her vacation.