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Nurse in Spain Tests Positive for Ebola in First Known Transmission Outside of Africa

A nurse and a doctor demonstrate Ebola decontamination procedure.  

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Less than a week after a man traveling from Liberia brought the first case of Ebola to the U.S., Europe got an Ebola scare of its own. A nurse in Spain tested positive for the virus health officials announced on Monday, marking the first known case where the virus was contracted outside of Africa. The nurse was infected with the virus at a Madrid hospital where she was treating a Spanish missionary who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, according to Spain’s health minister.

The priest died on Sept. 25, three days after returning to Spain; the nurse had contact with the patient only two times, once before his death and once with his clothes after his death, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The case is particularly worrisome to health experts because Spain is a developed country that is considered to possess the kind of rigorous infection control measures that should prevent disease transmission in the hospital,” the New York Times reports. “While the risk to hospital workers is thought to be far lower in developed countries, the infection of the Spanish nurse, along with the missteps in dealing with Ebola in Dallas, exposes weak spots in highly praised defense systems.”

The nurse was on vacation when she got a fever on Sept. 30, her first symptom of the virus, the Associated Press reports. She was admitted to the hospital and put in isolation five days later on Oct. 5, according to the Journal. This is the first case of Ebola to be confirmed outside of West Africa and the U.S.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of Ebola.