Amber Joy Vinson, a nurse who helped treat the first U.S. Ebola patient at a Texas hospital, was recently diagnosed with the disease. There has been an epidemic of Ebola, a virus that is spread through contact with bodily fluids, in West Africa since early 2014. The disease was brought to the U.S. by Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted it while visiting family in Liberia.
Vinson spent time in Cleveland after being infected, flying into and out of the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport on Oct. 10 and 13, respectively.
Vinson flew to Cleveland to spend time with her family in Akron and plan her upcoming wedding. A graduate of Kent State, Vinson flew on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth. At the time of the flight, she had a low fever, but was exhibiting no other symptoms.
The flight carried 132 passengers. The CDC is asking that anyone who traveled on the flight contact them or their local health care provider as soon as possible. Public health officials are working to contact the passengers of the flight, to arrange follow-ups and monitor anyone at possible risk.
“The Ohio Department of Health has been working since July on its preparedness plan in the event that Ohio ever got positive case in the state, and we’re confident in our efforts to respond efficiently and effectively,” said Dr. Mary DiOrio, State Epidemiologist and interim chief of the Ohio Department of Health’s Division of Prevention and Health Promotion in a statement.
CDC director Tom Frieden said that anyone who came into contact with Ebola should have only been allowed “controlled movement” by charter plane or private car in order to avoid the risk of spreading the disease. He also said that, by law, people with Ebola exposure are supposed to notify authorities of their travel within 21 days, a rule that Vinson may or may not have been aware of.
The CDC will be sending key staff to Cleveland as early as last Wednesday night to help contain the situation.
According to Frieden, Vinson had a 99 degree fever while on the flight, below the threshold of 100.5 degrees, which is what doctors use to indicate that a patient is becoming contagious.
Vinson was one of around 50 health care workers who helped treat Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan died on Oct. 8. Vinson, along with one other nurse, Nina Pham, were infected while treating him.