DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The CDC has announced that the second healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola — now identified as Amber Joy Vinson of Dallas — traveled by air Oct. 13, with a low-grade fever, a day before she showed up at the hospital reporting symptoms.
The CDC is now reaching out to all passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth. The flight landed at 8:16 p.m. CT.
All 132 passengers on the flight are being asked to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636). Public health professionals will begin interviewing passengers about the flight Wednesday afternoon.
“Although she (Vinson) did not report any symptoms and she did not meet the fever threshold of 100.4, she did report at that time she took her temperature and found it to be 99.5,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. Her temperature coupled with the fact that she had been exposed to the virus should have prevented her from getting on the plane, he said. “I don’t think that changes the level of risk of people around her. She did not vomit, she was not bleeding, so the level of risk of people around her would be extremely low.”
CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. John LaPook reports that Vinson called the CDC several times before boarding the plane concerned about her fever.
“This nurse, Nurse Vinson, did in fact call the CDC several times before taking that flight and said she has a temperature, a fever of 99.5, and the person at the CDC looked at a chart and because her temperature wasn’t 100.4 or higher she didn’t officially fall into the category of high risk,” said Dr. LaPook on the CBS Evening News.
Vinson first reported a fever to the hospital on Tuesday (Oct. 14) and was isolated within 90 minutes, according to officials. She did not exhibit symptoms while on the Monday flight, according to crew members. However, the CDC says passenger notification is needed as an “extra level of safety” due to the proximity in time between the flight and the first reported symptoms.
“Those who have exposures to Ebola, she should not have traveled on a commercial airline,” said Dr. Frieden. “The CDC guidance in this setting outlines the need for controlled movement. That can include a charter plane; that can include a car; but it does not include public transport. We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement.”
Frieden specifically noted that the remaining 75 healthcare workers who treated Thomas Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital will not be allowed to fly. The CDC will work with local and state officials to accomplish this.
Frontier Airlines is working closely with the CDC to identify and notify all passengers on the flight. The airline also says the plane has been thoroughly cleaned and was removed from service following CDC notification early Wednesday morning.
However, according to Flighttracker, the plane was used for five additional flights on Tuesday before it was removed from service. Those flights include a return flight to Cleveland, Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL), FLL to Cleveland, Cleveland to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), and ATL to Cleveland.
While in Ohio, Vinson visited relatives, who are employees at Kent State University. The university is now asking Vinson’s three relatives stay off campus and self-monitor per CDC protocol for the next 21 days out of an “abundance of caution.”
“It’s important to note that the patient was not on the Kent State campus,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren. “She stayed with her family at their home in Summit County and did not step foot on our campus. We want to assure our university community that we are taking this information seriously, taking steps to communicate what we know,” said Dr. Angela DeJulius, director of University Health Services at Kent State.
Vinson is a Kent State graduate. She received degrees from there in 2006 and 2008.
Cleveland’s Public Health Director, Toinette Parrilla, said Vinson was visiting in preparation for her wedding. While there, she visited her mother and her fiance.
The latest Ebola diagnosis was announced by the Texas Department of State Health Services early Wednesday morning.
Vinson is the second worker at Presbyterian Hospital to be diagnosed after providing health care to Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. He died last week.
Medical records provided to The Associated Press by Thomas Eric Duncan’s family show Amber Joy Vinson was actively engaged in caring for Duncan in the days before his death. The records show she inserted catheters, drew blood, and dealt with Duncan’s body fluids.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings addressed the media on Wednesday, saying the patient lives alone and has no pets.
“It may get worse before it gets better,” Rawlings said, “but it will get better.”
Crews worked to decontaminate the common areas of Vinson’s Dallas apartment building Tuesday morning. The apartment unit will be decontaminated by contractors starting early Wednesday afternoon.
The CDC announced that Vinson will be transported to Emory Hospital in Atlanta for further treatment. Two previous American Ebola patients, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were treated at Emory and were the first Ebola patients to be treated in the United States. They were released in August.
Nina Pham was diagnosed with the virus over the weekend and remains isolated in good condition. Pham’s dog — a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bentley — has been taken into custody and is being cared for at an undisclosed location.
Frontier Airlines released the following statement:
“At approximately 1:00 a.m. MT on October 15, Frontier was notified by the CDC that a customer traveling on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Oct. 13 has since tested positive for the Ebola virus. The flight landed in Dallas/Fort Worth at 8:16 p.m. local and remained overnight at the airport having completed its flying for the day at which point the aircraft received a thorough cleaning per our normal procedures which is consistent with CDC guidelines prior to returning to service the next day. It was also cleaned again in Cleveland last night. Previously the customer had traveled from Dallas Fort Worth to Cleveland on Frontier flight 1142 on October 10.
Customer exhibited no symptoms or sign of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew. Frontier responded immediately upon notification from the CDC by removing the aircraft from service and is working closely with CDC to identify and contact customers who may traveled on flight 1143.
Customers who may have traveled on either flight should contact CDC at 1 800 CDC-INFO.
The safety and security of our customers and employees is our primary concern. Frontier will continue to work closely with CDC and other governmental agencies to ensure proper protocols and procedures are being followed.”
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