MADRID – Doctors in Madrid have been testing three people for Ebola after a Spanish nurse became the first person known to have contracted the deadly virus outside West Africa.
Some 52 others are being monitored, health officials say.
The nurse had treated two Spanish missionaries who died of the disease after being repatriated.
Some 3,400 people have died in the current outbreak – mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned of the dire consequences for the economies in West Africa if the virus continues to spread.
Meanwhile, one of three people hospitalised in Madrid has reportedly tested negative for the virus.
A female health worker, who also treated one of the Spanish priests, has been cleared in two separate tests, health sources say.
The husband of the infected nurse and a Spanish man who travelled to Spain from Nigeria remain in quarantine.
The European Commission has asked Spain to explain how the nurse could have become infected. A hospital investigation is under way.
The Spanish auxiliary nurse, a 40-year-old woman who has not been named, was one of about 30 staff at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid who had been treating priests Manuel Garcia Viejo and Miguel Pajares, officials say.
Garcia Viejo, 69, died at the hospital on September 25 after catching Ebola in Sierra Leone. Pajares, 75, died in August after contracting the virus in Liberia.
The nurse had twice gone into the room where Garcia Viejo had been treated, to be directly involved in his care and to disinfect the room after his death.
Madrid healthcare director Antonia Alemany said: “The nurse went into the room wearing the individual protection gear and there’s no knowledge of an accidental exposure to risk.”
Shortly afterwards the nurse went on holiday but fell ill on September 30 and was admitted to Alcorcon hospital in south-west Madrid.
It was not clear where she had gone on holiday.
Early today she was moved under police escort to Carlos III hospital in the capital and is said to be in a stable condition.
The Spanish health authorities say she is being treated with a drip using antibodies from previous Ebola patients.
Doctors are monitoring 22 people including relatives and staff who had contact with the nurse at Alcorcon hospital, as well as 30 people working at Carlos III hospital. All have been contacted by the health authorities.
The Carlos III hospital was reported to have had extreme protective measures in place including two sets of overalls, gloves and goggles.
However, health workers told El Pais newspaper that the clothing did not have level-four biological security, which is fully waterproof and with independent breathing apparatus.
Instead it was level two, the paper says, as photographs provided by staff indicated that the overalls did not allow for ventilation and the gloves were made of latex and bound with adhesive tape.
Health staff in Madrid protested over what they said were safety failures today.
IMF official Rupa Duttagupta said today that a generally positive outlook for growth in sub-Saharan Africa was overshadowed by what she described as “the heavy economic toll” on countries worst affected by Ebola.
Meanwhile, United States military commander General David Rodriguez said that the Pentagon was focusing on containing the outbreak at its source.
He told a news conference that the American military was providing logistics, training and engineering support to try to halt the progress of the virus.
Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids and the only way to stop an outbreak is to isolate those who are infected.
There have been nearly 7,500 confirmed infections worldwide, with officials saying the figure is likely to be much higher in reality.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have been hardest hit.
Thomas Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, is being treated at a Dallas hospital. He caught the virus in his native Liberia. Doctors say he is in critical but stable condition.