CDC Looking For Fellow Passengers Of Ebola Patient

Wednesday, October 15th 2014, 12:37 pm
By: News 9

The second health care worker to test positive for Ebola in Dallas traveled by air the day before presenting symptoms and being isolated, the CDC announced Wednesday.

The revelation has raised alarm about further spread of the disease, which is transmitted through body fluids such as blood and saliva after the victim starts showing symptoms.

In response to the latest Ebola case, the White House announced Tuesday that President Obama is calling off a planned trip to New Jersey and Connecticut and instead will convene Cabinet officials coordinating the government's Ebola response.

The CDC said it is attempting to track down all 132 passengers aboard the plane the health care worker took because of "the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness. Officials identified the flight taken by the worker as Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13. They said anyone aboard the plane should call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636) immediately.

The health care worker exhibited no signs or symptoms of illness while on flight 1143, according to the crew.

In a statement, Frontier Airlines said they "will continue to work closely with CDC and other governmental agencies to ensure proper protocols and procedures are being followed."

While officials have released little identifying information about the second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to contract the Ebola virus, they have said she did provide care to Thomas Eric Duncan, whom officials refer to as "the index patient" and is the Liberian national who died at Presbyterian on Oct. 8. Duncan was the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, although he is believed to have contracted the disease while still in Liberia.

The agency said the positive test result for the worker was returned from a preliminary test, and that "confirmation testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's laboratory is being done."

The worker was in isolation at a Dallas hospital within 90 minutes of her finding she had an elevated temperature, officials said. They also said she lives alone with no pets.

Crews were at the health care worker's apartment early Wednesday morning, located in north Dallas, reports CBS Dallas. They began decontaminating the complex's common areas and the space outside of the patient's home, as well as distributing flyers to residents. The patient's vehicle and apartment unit will be decontaminated starting early Wednesday afternoon.

Officials have said they also don't know how the first health worker, 26-year-old nurse Nina Pham, became infected. But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "an additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern."

"What happened there (in Dallas), regardless of the reason, is not acceptable. It shouldn't have happened," Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of NIH, said on MSNBC Wednesday.

The state health agency said the new patient had been interviewed, "to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored. The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus."

"We want to remind Dallas County residents not to panic and overreact," said county health director Zach Thompson. "We just want Dallas County residents to stay calm."

Nurse Nina Pham, the first person to contract Ebola on U.S. soil, also got the disease while caring for Duncan. She repeatedly visited his roomfrom the day he was admitted to the intensive care unit until the day before he died, medical records show.

Pham and other health care workers wore protective gear, including gowns, gloves, masks and face shields -- and sometimes full-body suits -- when caring for Duncan, but confirmation of the new case came a day after a national nurses union decried an absence of protocols at the Texas hospital.

When Pham's mother learned she was caring for Duncan, she tried to reassure her that she would be safe.

Pham told her: "Mom, no. Don't worry about me," family friend Christina Tran told The Associated Press.

Duncan's medical records make numerous mentions of protective gear worn by hospital staff, and Pham herself notes wearing the gear in visits to Duncan's room. But there is no indication in the records of her first encounter with Duncan, on Sept. 29, that Pham donned any protective gear.