A Texas community is reeling today after hundreds of people received pre-recorded phone calls telling them that a health worker living in their neighbourhood had tested positive for Ebola.
All telephone lines within four blocks of the nurse's home in north east Dallas received the call on Sunday, after she become the second person to test positive for the virus in the city.
The call, recorded in a male voice, said the the worker was "in the hospital and isolated" and that there was "no ongoing danger to your health".
The worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, reported to be female, helped to look after Thomas Duncan, who died on Wednesday in Dallas after being the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the US.
She was the first person to contract Ebola on US soil, as Duncan caught the virus after visiting Liberia - one of the countries worst-hit by the outbreak.
The text of the message, as reported by ABC, was:
"THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE CITY OF DALLAS
Please be advised that a heath care worker who lives in your area has tested positive for Ebola. This individual is in the hospital and isolated. Precautions are already in process to clean all known potential areas of contact to ensure public health.
While this may be concerning, there is no ongoing danger to your health. The virus does not spread through casual contact.
The City of Dallas is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dallas County, Dallas Independent School District, and Community Leaders to protect your health.
For more information please call 311 or Dallas County Health and Human Services at 214-819-2004."
Public officials organised the call to send information to residents and keep people calm, after the healthcare worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital tested positive for the virus.
Police officers and volunteers also knocked on doors in the area and handed our flyers to explain the situation, though there are fears that people without telephone landlines or who weren't in their homes at the time may not have received the news.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings stressed that that there is no risk of contracting the disease without contact with fluids from someone who is showing symptoms.
“We had this plan in place last week,” Rawlings told dallasnews.com. “So when we got this phone call, which we thought we might get, we put an action team in place and they have been working all this [prior] evening so that as people are waking up they know that they are safe.”
A decontamination team have been working at the flat and arrangements have been made to care for the health worker's dog.
A man is also being assessed at a hospital in Boston after fears yesterday that he was infected with Ebola, but officials at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center now say he is unlikely to have the virus, Reuters reported.
The nurse's case raises serious concerns about the safety measures around the virus: she was reportedly wearing protective clothing including a mask, gloves and gown, yet still caught the disease after a "breach of safety protocol" according to Dr Tom Frieden, the head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This could mean a mistake was made when the protective clothing was removed.Suggest a correction