Federal health officials are tracking down 132 people who flew on a plane from Cleveland to Dallas with the second health care worker who tested positive for Ebola after she helped care for the first patient in the U.S. diagnosed with the disease.
The Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas employee, who was part of the team that cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died from the virus in the hospital last week, flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms.
Frontier Airlines was notified by the CDC that the second hospital worker with Ebola flew on one if its planes the day before she tested positive. (Photo credit: David Gaylor/Shutterstock)
The CDC is asking anyone who flew on this plane to make contact because of the timing of the flight and the woman reporting her illness to the hospital. The CDC noted that this health care worker did not exhibit any symptoms while on the flight.
Dallas officials confirmed Wednesday that a second employee the hospital had Ebola and was in isolation after she came in Tuesday with a low-grade fever. Reuters reported that a relative of this second hospital worker identified her as 29-year-old Amber Vinson. According to public records, Reuters found that Vinson lived in the apartment building that officials said they began cleaning Wednesday. Officials also notified those who lived in the complex and the nearby area of the situation.
In this photo released via Twitter by the City of Dallas Public Information Managing Director Sana Syed, members of Dallas Fire-Rescue Haz Mat Unit prepare to decontaminate common areas near the The Village Bend East apartment of a second healthcare worker who has tested positive for Ebola, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, in Dallas. (AP/City of Dallas Public Information, Sana Syed)
Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, diarrhea and vomit. Health officials plan to interview passengers on this flight and monitor any who might be considered at risk.
“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," Frontier said in a statement. "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."
"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," the statement continued.
Anyone who traveled on this flight should contact the 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," Frontier said.
Some have already called for travel bans from countries in West Africa severely impacted by the historic Ebola outbreak, but most health officials have dismissed this idea. The government has, however, instituted more screening at five U.S. airports for passengers who had recently traveled in these countries.
With this latest flight involving an infected patient being domestic, some might call for further restrictions on those being monitored. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said at a news conference Wednesday morning that 75 other health care workers were being monitored after having cared for Duncan. These employees of the hospital are not working but are also not under a quarantine order. In the conference, Jenkins said they are not planning on isolating any of these employees until they report any symptoms.
"We don't want a situation where people are afraid that if they bump into asymptomatic people," Jenkins said.
"This is not going to be a situation where we put protective orders on 75 health care workers," he added. "The system we have right now is working. If they have any temperature or any loose stool or any other symptoms, they immediately go into isolation at hospital and they are tested."
Jenkins did add that they are setting up a place where if health care workers can choose to stay if they wish to stay away from their families.
This story has been updated to include more information and to correct that the patient flew from Cleveland to Dallas.
Front page image via David Gaylor/Shutterstock.