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CDC Approved for Symptomatic Nurse With Ebola To Fly

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Though the CDC said yesterday Amber Vinson should not have taken a commercial flight, it has now been revealed that Vinson – who had a “low-grade fever” at the time – asked the CDC if she should fly and was told she could. After being cleared by the CDC despite coming into contact with now-deceased Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan,Vinson took a commercial flight from Cleveland to Dallas and was formally diagnosed with Ebola the next day.

The October 13th flight had 132 passengers all of whom the CDC is now looking to interview and evaluate to see if they have been infected with the Ebola virus. When Vinson called the CDC she told them she was running a low-grade fever with a temperature of 99.5. Ebola is said to only be transmittable when the patient has symptoms, which Vinson apparently had.

Though an airplane is a very conducive setting to transmitting illness generally, Ebola requires direct contact with bodily fluids which the CDC say did not happen as Vinson was not bleeding and did not vomit on the flight.

The CDC is now reaching out to all passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth. The flight landed at 8:16 p.m. CT.All 132 passengers on the flight are being asked to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636). Public health professionals will begin interviewing passengers about the flight Wednesday afternoon.

“Although she (Vinson) did not report any symptoms and she did not meet the fever threshold of 100.4, she did report at that time she took her temperature and found it to be 99.5,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden.  Her temperature coupled with the fact that she had been exposed to the virus should have prevented her from getting on the plane, he said.  “I don’t think that changes the level of risk of people around her.  She did not vomit, she was not bleeding, so the level of risk of people around her would be extremely low.”

So roughly 1 more degree and the CDC would have said she could not fly. Though now the CDC claims they should have said no anyway given they knew she was exposed. Not confidence inspiring.

Also not confidence inspiring are reports coming from the hospital itself that protocols were not followed after Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola. The breakdown in protocol includes not wearing protective gear and sending Duncan’s lab samples through a pneumatic tubes that may have risked infecting other samples and personnel who used the system. There were also reports that hazardous waste was “piled up to the ceiling.”

Vinson was likely infected in the course of treating Duncan which included drawing blood and coming into contact with Duncan’s other bodily fluids. Vinson is the second health worker who treated Duncan to get infected with Ebola.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.