María Teresa Romero Ramos became internationally known this week as the first person to contract Ebola outside of the continent of Africa. The Spanish auxiliary nurse, currently quarantined in a Madrid hospital, spoke to a reporter for national newspaper El Mundo, and confessed she had “no idea” how she contracted the disease.
Speaking to a reporter for the newspaper, Romero, who is currently struggling to defeat the virus, sounded weak and suspicious, asking the reporter, “How did you get my cell phone number?” The reporter explained that he received it from her neighbors, and he began asking short questions–most notably, whether Romero had any theories as to what she did to contract the virus from a patient.
After answering that she felt “better” than she has in the past, she noted that she did not know how she contracted the disease: “I have no idea.” The reporter asked, “You didn’t do anything weird? You didn’t leave worried in any way?” Romero’s only reply was, “I prefer not to speak; it tires me.” Listen to the conversation here.
Husband Javier Limón also spoke to the newspaper. Though currently under quarantine, he is not believed to be symptomatic. He emphasized that his wife had volunteered to work to help cure Miguel García Viejo, a Spanish missionary who contracted the disease in Sierra Leone. “Other people run away, but not Teresa,” said Limón, adding that Romero has been “at home mostly” during the time before her positive diagnosis, and that he is extremely concerned about his dog, Excalibur. Authorities have said the pet must be killed to prevent the spread of the disease.
While Romero noted that she herself does not know how she contracted the disease, several reports point to the auxiliary nurse touching her face during removal of Ebola protective equipment. Germán Ramírez, a doctor working in the same ward as Romero, told Spanish newspaper ABC that he believes “there is a possibility that there was contact between the gloves she was wearing and her face. In other interviews, Ramírez noted that the most “dangerous” part of coming into contact with Ebola is the removal of HAZMAT suits, in which skin can be exposed fleetingly to the virus, enough for it to enter the body.
In light of Romero’s positive diagnosis, the Spanish government has announced that it is monitoring over 50 people who may have come into contact with her while she was symptomatic. In addition to those monitored, four have been hospitalized.