The second healthcare worker to catch Ebola from Thomas Duncan in Dallas “should not have traveled on a commercial airline” when she flew from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday, CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters on a press call on Wednesday.
That patient, who has been identified by Mail Online as Amber Vinson, did not know that her co-worker Nina Pham had contracted Ebola when she flew to Ohio to visit family in the first place. But she was aware of that information when she got on the plane to return to Dallas, and she recorded her own temperature at 99.5 F at that time.
Although that temperature is below 101.5 F, the number healthcare workers are told to watch for when self-monitoring for Ebola symptoms, it’s still above normal, 98.6 F.
Frieden said that for that reason and since she was a part of a group that was known to be exposed to the virus, she should have only traveled by “controlled movement,” referring to a car or a charter plane.
Still, Frieden noted that “the fact that the patient number two did not have a fever until the next day,” at least not at the level considered to be a symptom, and since she “did not have nausea or vomiting on the plane, [this] suggests to us that the risk to any individual on that plane would be very low.”
He described efforts to reach out to the other passengers on that flight as an extra margin of safety.
In the future, anyone who is being monitored for the Ebola virus will be specifically restricted from travelling using public transport or from flying commercial, something that Frieden says the CDC will work out with local authorities and with public health officials.
Vinson will be transferred via a chartered flight to Emory University Hospital today, where two other Ebola patients, Dr. Ken Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were successfully treated.
Frieden also said that Vinson, like Nina Pham, treated Duncan when he was first being diagnosed with Ebola, which indicates to the CDC that people are most contagious at that time.
When he was first being diagnosed, Duncan was expelling the most fluid because of vomiting and diarrhoea, body fluids that carry high loads of the virus.
When the CDC first arrived in Dallas they noticed that hospital workers were using a variety of different kinds of personal protective equipment that they were unfamiliar with and were putting that equipment on in a variety of different ways, which may have been the source of the infections. In person training of how to use the right kinds of personal protective equipment and how to put it on and remove it correctly should cut down future infections, though more infections among healthcare workers who initially treated Duncan are still possible.
From this point on, the CDC will send a site manager to any hospital in the country treating an Ebola patient, so that the use of protective equipment by staff can be monitored and any tragic accidents avoided.
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