Health officials in Ohio say they are monitoring more than 100 people following a visit by a Dallas nurse who tested positive for Ebola shortly after returning to Texas from the Cleveland area.
ABC News reports that state officials previously said 16 people were being monitored who had contact with Amber Vinson. However, the number increased to over 100 after airline passengers who flew with Vinson were identified. The Frontier Airlines flights that Vinson was on, which flew both to Cleveland and back to Dallas, have both been identified and the passengers contacted. The people who also visited the dress shop where her bridesmaids were trying on dresses are also being monitored.
Vinson’s stepfather is quarantined in his home in the Akron suburb of Tallmadge as that is where Vinson stayed during her visit. The stepfather is the only person in the state under such a restriction, and state officials note that no person being monitored is showing signs of Ebola.
CNN reports that over 800 people in total were contacted about possible exposure from the Frontier flights. Frontier spokesman Todd Lehmacher said that by early Friday evening, airline officials had contacted as many as 800 passengers, including those on Vinson’s October 10 flight to Cleveland, her October 13 return flight to Dallas, and five other trips taken by the latter plane before it was taken out of service. The CDC, even as it said these passengers have an extremely low chance of getting Ebola, is reaching out to those on Vinson’s flights.
Vinson is one of two nurses at Dallas’ Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who have contracted the deadly Ebola virus while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and died October 8. Vinson was hospitalized Tuesday, one day after her return flight from Ohio, where she was visiting family and planning her wedding. Vinson was moved Wednesday to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital. The other nurse, Nina Pham, is being treated at a National Institutes of Health facility in Maryland.
Authorities initially said Vinson had a slightly elevated temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit when she boarded her last flight to Dallas, but that temperature was below the fever threshold for Ebola so she was allowed to fly. Vinson also did not exhibit any other symptoms while on the flight. This is significant because a person isn’t contagious with Ebola, which spreads through the transmission of bodily fluids, until they exhibit symptoms of the disease.
Her uncle said Thursday night his niece didn’t feel sick until the morning after her return to Dallas. The CDC’s Dr. Chris Braden said Friday that Vinson didn’t have classic Ebola symptoms like a sore throat, fever, or muscle aches on her trip. Those symptoms did not appear until the following day, making the likelihood of Vinson infecting anyone on her flights very small.