Second Texas Nurse Infected with Ebola Flew Day Before Symptoms

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Decon in progress in apt building of 2nd health care worker with Ebola (Dallas Police Department)

Decon in progress in apt building of 2nd health care worker with Ebola (Dallas Police Department)

DALLAS, Texas — The second Dallas health care worker who contracted the Ebola virus was on a flight the day before her symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

Now, the CDC wants to interview all 132 passengers who were on the plane with her.

The woman’s name is Amber Vinson, the Reuters news agency reported.

“Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13,” the CDC said in a statement. The flight landed Monday at 8:16 p.m. CT.

The Ebola virus is not contagious before symptoms set in.

The woman “exhibited no symptoms or sign of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew,” Frontier Airlines said in a statement.

Earlier, she flew from Dallas-Fort Worth to Cleveland on Frontier Flight 1142 on October 10.

The airline said customers who may have traveled on either flight should contact the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). But the CDC statement referred only to passengers on the October 13 flight.

The October 13 flight was cleaned thoroughly after it landed, “per our normal procedures which is consistent with CDC guidelines,” the airline said. After the airline was informed of the Ebola patient, the plane was removed from service.

Hospital denies ‘institutional problem’

Vinson, who lives alone, is in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

The news that she contracted Ebola cast further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle the virus and protect employees.

It’s the same hospital that initially sent Thomas Eric Duncan home, even though he had a fever and had traveled from West Africa. By the time he returned to the hospital, his symptoms had worsened. He died while being treated by medical staff, including the two women who have now contracted the disease.

“I don’t think we have a systematic institutional problem,” Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, told reporters Wednesday, facing questions about the hospital’s actions.

Medical staff “may have done some things differently with the benefit of what we know today,” he said, adding, “no one wants to get this right more than our hospital.”

People in the health care worker’s office building were informed when officials went door to door, and also through early morning reverse 911 calls, officials said.

The health care worker had no pets, authorities said.

More than 120 being monitored

Seventy-five health care workers in Dallas are being monitored for any Ebola symptoms, Varga said.

Separately, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who is overseeing the response efforts, said 48 other people in the community still are being monitored after having contact with Duncan, who was Dallas’ first Ebola patient. Those 48 are asymptomatic, and Sunday will mark the end of the window in which they could get sick.

The second worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said. The virus is not contagious before there are symptoms.

A preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the health department said.

The worker’s apartment and car will be cleaned Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

Official: Duncan should have been moved

An official close to the situation says that in hindsight, Duncan should have been transferred immediately to either Emory University Hospital in Atlanta or Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Those hospitals are among only four in the country that have biocontainment units and have been preparing for years to treat a highly infectious disease like Ebola.

“If we knew then what we know now about this hospital’s ability to safely care for these patients, then we would have transferred him to Emory or Nebraska,” the official told CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

“I think there are hospitals that are more than ready, but I think there are some that are not.”

The second time

The latest infection marks the second-ever transmission of Ebola in the United States. Both stemmed from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Late last week, nurse Nina Pham tested positive for Ebola. She also took care of Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Duncan died last week.

On Tuesday, Pham said she was doing well.

“I am blessed by the support of family and friends, and am blessed to be cared for by the best team of doctors and nurses in the world,” she said.

Troubling allegations

Also Tuesday, National Nurses United made troubling allegations about the hospital, claiming “guidelines were constantly changing” and “there were no protocols” about how to deal with the deadly virus.”

“The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place, and that those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States as far as we can tell,” NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. “We’re deeply alarmed.”

Nurses were told to wrap their necks with medical tape when equipment left their necks exposed; they felt unsupported and unprepared, and they received no hands-on training, union co-president Deborah Burger said.

A Texas Health Presbyterian spokesman did not respond to the specific allegations but said patient and employee safety is the hospital’s top priority.

Changing the protocol

The CDC is establishing an Ebola response team so that whenever there’s a confirmed case anywhere in the country, “we will put a team on the ground within hours,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the centers.

Such a team, Frieden said, might have prevented Pham from contracting the disease.

Global epidemic

While the Texas hospital deals with its third Ebola patient, the situation in West Africa is getting increasingly dire.

More than 4,000 people have died from Ebola this year in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

And there could be 10,000 new Ebola cases per week in the three countries by the end of this year as the outbreak spreads, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he’ll reach out directly to heads of state to encourage other countries to do more to fight back.

“There are a number of countries that have capacity that have not yet stepped up,” he said. “Those that have stepped up, all of us, are going to have to do more.”

9 comments

  • Terry Johnson

    love that it happened again in a state where their Govunah brags about not having regulations or any inspections of any kind. What a shock that something like this should happen in that state. Cuz we knows thats business will always do the right thing. We should quarantine the state of Texas .

    • Josh

      Yes, but what should have been done long ago was stop travel from these parts of the world, but our Pres is a moron.

    • blondmyk

      I live here in TX and I’m starting to agree with you. I think that Dallas, for certain, should be quarantined somehow, but am unsure how anyone could do this successfully. I knew the minute that this hit in TX that I should get the hell out of here. Wish I would have done it.

  • Asok Smith

    No doubt CDC Director Frieden will blame this poor health care giver for violating the non-existent CDC Ebola “protocols”, and then proceed to explain how it’s imperative NOT to stop west African flights from infected countries because that will somehow accelerate the spread of Ebola in AFRICA, and the ONLY way the U.S. will be safe is if we cure everyone in AFRICA of Ebola.

    I kid you not! Frieden said all of this on Megyn Kelly last night. The most interesting matter of course is that he spilled the beans that the Obama administration is actually more concerned about the people of Africa than the citizens of the U.S.:

    The problems with things like Ebola is that they grow exponentially. Even if Ebola grows slowly to start with, unfortunately, we ain’t seen nuttin yet. Just wait until flu and norovirus season hits to see what a completely paralyzed nation that battens down the barricades REALLY looks like as millions have symptoms that are much like how Ebola starts off! The trenches of our medical system are woefully unprepared for something like this. And thank you, President Obola for your “fundamental transformation” when flu season hits! Oh, and PLEASE let’s keep those West African shuttles flying back and forth, since obviously it would do no good anyway with your open borders policy.

    Oh, and everyone? Be sure to vote a straight Democrat ticket in November: they really DO care about you folks, ya’ll hear? After all:

    “Now, I am not on the ballot this fall,” Obama stressed. “… But make no mistake: My policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.” (Including unrestricted West African air flights.)

    King Barack Hussein Obama, October 2, 2014, Northwestern University

  • Lynn

    So far as we know the family of Duncan have not shown any symptoms, nor idiot Jenkins. Also the LEO who served quarantine notice is fine. Clearly you nred to be in prolonged exposure with a dying ebola infected person. Its chicken little to think you can get it in contact in early stages.

  • Dean

    Obviously, none of these people have ever read a Stephen King novel depicting how quickly diseases like this can disperse. Geez!

  • concerned physician

    As a practicing physician I do remember a little about epidemiology and medical school. We had to make out a graph of everyone we had contact with and everyone those people had contact with and keep doing that and eventually you have an exponential problem of people who are potentially infected spread literally throughout the world.I am of the medical opinion that we are currently just at the tip of the iceberg I believe the ebola will spread exponentially over the next couple of months. I hopefully I’m wrong about this. it is very clear that our government was completely and still is unprepared and disorganized in their response to this.

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