DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There has been a third case of Ebola virus diagnosed in North Texas. But for the first time, the patient made contact with people outside of the Lone Star State.READ MORE: U.S.-Mexico Border Arrests During Summer Remain At Highest Level In Decades
It has been confirmed that 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson is the newest patient. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vinson is one of the nurses who treated the late Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
Just before 4:00 p.m. Vinson was transported by ambulance to Dallas Love Field Airport to be taken to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment. Around 4:40 p.m. Vinson was taken out of the ambulance on a stretcher, but then stood and walked up the steps and onto the specialized CDC Gulfstream III airplane. The plane began to taxi onto the runway at 5:00 p.m. and less than four minutes later was in the air. Officials with the CDC said Vinson’s condition is clinically stable.
Vinson arrived at Peachtree DeKalb Airport in Atlanta around 8 p.m. and again, under her own volition, walked off of the plane to a waiting ambulance. Vinson arrived at Emory University Hospital less than an hour after landing in Atlanta.
During the flight Vinson was cared for inside of an Aeromedical Biological Containment System. The containment area has negative pressure and a filtered supply system designed to keep germs from entering the cabin.
Less than 24 hours before Vinson reported a fever, and went into isolation, she took a commercial flight from Cleveland back to North Texas. While in Ohio Vinson had contact with three people who are now being monitored and have self-quarantined themselves inside their home.
Concerns about Vinson traveling have also prompted the CDC to reach out to the more than 130 people on the Frontier Airlines flight she traveled on.
Since it was first suspected that Duncan could have Ebola, experts questioned why he, and others subsequently, were not being sent to one of the four hospitals in the U.S. that specialize in the treatment. She is listed in good condition.
Health officials would not say why Vinson was being sent to Atlanta, while nurse Nina Pham, who was hospitalized on October 12, continues to receive treatment at Presbyterian Hospital.
Heath and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said, “We are also talking to other hospitals to accept patients if needed.”READ MORE: COVID-19 Booster Shot Not Yet FDA-Authorized, But Some Not Waiting
Also Wednesday, health officials said they were “zeroing in” on how and when the two Presbyterian healthcare workers may have contracted the virus.
Duncan died one week ago today and it was four days later that Pham was hospitalized and confirmed to have the virus.
During a press conference Wednesday CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said, “Both healthcare workers worked with the patient [Duncan] and had extensive contact with the patient when he had vomiting and diarrhea.”
Officials with the CDC also said they believe the breach in protocol, that led to the infections, happened sometime on September 28, 29 and/or on the 30th — a time frame that officials called the “highest risk period.” Those are the first three days when Duncan was hospitalized in isolation, before he was confirmed to have Ebola and before the arrival of a special CDC team in North Texas.
Perhaps even more important on Wednesday, the CDC said the protective gear provided and worn by Dallas healthcare workers might have been inadequate.
“Some of the forms of PPE (personal protective equipment) used, did allow exposure of some parts of the skin,” said Frieden. “We have discussed in detail and there are right ways to do it and the key is the adherence to protocol.”
There have also been published reports that workers were only wearing gowns and scrubs until Duncan was officially diagnosed on September 30, and that it was only then that workers changed into hazmat suits when treating him.
The CDC has also intensified the monitoring of the 50 or so other Dallas healthcare workers who cared for Duncan. Officials with Presbyterian Hospital said they are creating more space inside for enhanced screenings. “We are reviewing those [healthcare workers] and ensuring intensive follow-up for all of those individuals.”
According to the CDC, no one else is currently being tested for Ebola.
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