The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the second U.S. health care worker to contract the deadly Ebola virus took a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland, Ohio, to a Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, airport on Monday, October 13.
The health worker was identified as Amber Vinson, 29, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Officials said Vinson took the flight just one day before she reported developing symptoms of infection, U.S. and airline officials said.
CDC director Tom Frieden said at a news conference Wednesday that a person being monitored for Ebola should not have traveled on a commercial flight. He added that other people being monitored for the disease will not be allowed to fly commercially.
CDC officials have said there is «very low risk» to any of the passengers who were on the flight, as Ebola spreads by direct contact with infected body fluids, like vomit or blood, and not through the air, like flu.
Despite the low risk, the agency and the airline say they are reaching out to all 132 passengers who were aboard.
Crew members said the health care worker did not show any symptoms on the flight.
White House briefing
After news of the nurse was announced, U.S. President Barack Obama canceled travel plans and announced an emergency cabinet meeting on Ebola at the White House at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930GMT).
Earlier Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters that Dallas authorities are at work, notifying her neighbors.
Vinson was put into quarantine quickly on Tuesday after a fever was detected.
The CDC also said Vinson is being moved to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday for treatment.
Emory is one of the country’s hospitals that is equipped to handle Ebola patients. Two American missionaries infected with Ebola were successfully treated at Emory in August after being flown from Liberia in isolation bubbles.
“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,”the Texas Department of State Health Services said on Wednesday.
Vinson contracted the virus while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who became the first person in the United States to die of the virus last week.
Rawlings said Vinson’s apartment, where she lived alone with no pets, is being decontaminated.
Vinson’s news comes just days after another nurse, 26-year-old Nina Pham, became the first person infected by Ebola in the United States while caring for Duncan during much of his 11 days in the hospital. Duncan died on Oct. 8.
Pham released a statement Tuesday saying she is «doing well» and wants «to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers.»
The CDC said in a statement that it was performing confirmation testing of Texas’ preliminary tests on the new patient.
“An additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimize the risk to health care workers and the patient,” the CDC said.
Union reports issues
Meanwhile, the head of a national nurses union, RoseAnn DeMoro, said she had reports saying the hospital in Dallas lacked the proper protocols to deal with an Ebola patient.
DeMoro said a group of nurses from the hospital contacted her with complaints that Duncan’s case had not been handled safely.
The union said the nurses, who would not give their names for fear of retribution, complained that Duncan was not isolated for several hours once admitted to the hospital, that hazardous waste was allowed to accumulate inside the building, and that there was no mandated training for hospital workers on how to handle infected patients.
The nurses’ union said these complaints were conveyed to the CDC in Atlanta.
There was no immediate comment from the CDC, but officials have said they are committed to the safety of health care workers.
The head of the CDC said Tuesday any U.S. hospital with a confirmed case of Ebola now will get a CDC response team on the ground «within hours.»
Dr. Tom Frieden said he has been hearing «loud and clear» from health care workers that they are worried about Ebola and do not feel prepared to take care of a patient with the disease.
Frieden said the CDC team currently on the ground in Dallas is making sure those caring for Pham do so «safely and effectively.»
He said putting «a more robust» infection control team in place when the first patient was diagnosed in Dallas might have prevented her from getting infected.
At least 75 other health care workers who might have come into contact with Duncan are being monitored for fever or other symptoms.
Another 48 people exposed to Duncan before he was hospitalized have passed the period of greatest risk, and Frieden said they are now unlikely to develop Ebola.
Some material for this report came from Reuters and AP.