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Second US Nurse with Ebola May Have Started Showing Symptoms Earlier than Thought

By: 
Renee Despres
Monday, February 20, 2017 - 05:26Ebola Virus Illustration

We don't often cover breaking news at ehealthMD, because our goal is to provide reliable health information -- and breaking news is often anything but reliable. But we're making an exception for a critical Ebola virus-related alert from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). CDC officials now have reason to believe that Amber Vinson, the second nurse who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Duncan at Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital, may have started showing symptoms of Ebola as early as Friday, October 10, the day she flew from Dallas to Cleveland. Previously, officials were only concerned about passengers who shared her return flight on October 13.

In a media release issued late on October 16, CDC officials stated that it was expanding its outreach to airline passengers now to include those who flew from Dallas Fort Worth to Cleveland on Frontier flight 1142 on Oct. 10, based on additional information obtained during interviews of Vinson's close contacts.

CDC is now asking passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1142 Dallas/Fort Worth to Cleveland on Oct. 10 and passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Oct. 13 to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636).

Public health professionals will interview passengers about the flight, answer their questions, and arrange follow up if warranted. Individuals who are determined to be at any potential risk will be actively monitored.

Vinson reported to Texas Presbyterian Hospital on the morning of Oct. 14 with a low-grade fever and was isolated. At 1 a.m. on October 15, the CDC confirmed that she tested positive for Ebola disease. Vinson had traveled by air Oct. 10 and again Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms. Vinson has since been transferred to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, which has a specialized isolation unit designed to treat dangerous pathogens and a highly trained infectious diseases team.

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids of an Ebola-infected person. Direct contact means that body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) have touched someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion. Ebola is killed with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach).

According to the CDC statement, Frontier Airlines used appropriate measures to thoroughly clean the plane consistent with CDC guidelines. However, Frontier Airlines has taken additional steps -- including grounding the plane after four decontaminations.

The airline has also expanded its notification beyond CDC recommendations to passengers on five additional October 14 flights. The notification reaches an additional 700-800 passengers, according to Frontier President Barry Biffle. According to Biffle, the airline has been been told by CDC officials that the passengers are not at risk for infection by the Ebola virus, but if they have questions, feel any symptoms, or are worried to contact the CDC.

Passengers on the following October 14 flights are affected by the Frontier notification (but not the CDC notification):

  • Flight 2042 from Dallas to Cleveland, departing at 7:50 a.m. CST and arriving at 11:27 EST.
  • Flight 1104 from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale, departing at 12:13 p.m. and arriving at 3:01 p.m.
  • Flight 1105 from Fort Lauderdale to Cleveland, departing at 3:43 p.m. and arriving at 6:25 p.m.
  • Flight 1101 from Cleveland to Atlanta, departing at 7:14 p.m. and arriving at 9:07 p.m.
  • Flight 1100 from Atlanta to Cleveland, departing at 9:57 p.m. and arriving at 11 p.m.

 

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