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Could the dog belonging to the Texas nurse be the next victim of Ebola?

Dr. David L. Lakey, M.D. Commissioner, Texas Department of State Health Services speaks at a press conference to answer questions about the confirmed Ebola case at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Wednesday, October 1, 2014. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images) Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images

A Texas official said Monday that health workers are closely monitoring the dog belonging to the nurse who became the second person ever to contract the Ebola virus in the United States.

Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, told reporters that the nurse owns a dog, and that the dog is being cared for and closely watched. He said the dog was removed from the apartment of the nurse as that apartment was being cleaned.

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 1.35.43 PM Nina Pham, pictured here with her dog, is reportedly the nurse who has contracted Ebola in Texas, according to WFAA in Texas.
Photo credit: WFAA

"One issue related to the final cleaning is the health care worker has a dog, and we want to make sure that we respond appropriately," Lakey said. "And so we're working hard to find a local to care for the dog and a location where we can have the proper monitoring of the dog."

On Monday, the nurse's family identified her as 26-year old Nina Pham, according to WFAA in Texas. The station released a picture of Pham with her dog.

The question of whether pets are safe from the disease has already arisen in Europe. Last week, Spanish authorities euthanized a dog belonging to the victim of an Ebola virus there, amid protests from animal rights groups.

So far, the dog belonging to Pham is avoiding that fate. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA Today that there are no plans to euthanize the dog.

Lakey spoke in a press briefing along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tom Frieden, who largely reiterated the CDC's efforts to contain the virus in the United States.

Frieden reiterated that health workers are still monitoring the status of the 48 people that deceased Ebola patient Thomas Duncan may have infected, plus the one person they believe could be at risk of catching Ebola from Pham.

However, Frieden said they are still trying to figure out what other health care workers may have had lethal contact with Duncan, and said that information could be released on Tuesday.

"That process is still underway," Frieden said. "The team worked hard through the day yesterday, into the night yesterday, and are still actively working today to interview each one of the large number of healthcare workers who might potentially have had contact with the index patient when he was hospitalized."

Over the weekend, Frieden talked about the breach in protocol that allowed the virus to be transmitted from Duncan to the nurse. But Monday, he said those comments should not be seen as a criticism of the nurse.

"I'm sorry if that was the impression given," he said. "That was certainly not my intention."

"The enemy here is a virus, Ebola," he added. "It's not a person, it's not a country, it's not a place, it's not a hospital. It's a virus."

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