CDC cleared Ebola nurse to fly, mulls travel ban

2014-10-16 17:25
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Washington - US authorities allowed a health care worker who had been exposed to an Ebola patient to fly by plane after she reported a low-grade fever, and are now considering a travel ban for such cases, a source told AFP on Thursday.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention spoke with the woman by phone when she was at a Cleveland, Ohio airport on 13 October, and she reported a temperature of 37.5°C.

"The decision [to let her fly] was based on, in this case, the disclosure from the health care worker in terms of her well-being," CDC spokesperson Barbara Reynolds told AFP.

When she boarded the plane, the woman, who has been identified in US media as Amber Vinson, had been moved into a group of people that needed "active monitoring" because of their contact with a Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital on 8 October.

Another nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola on 12 October.

The CDC has reached out to the 132 people who were on that flight as a precaution, even though officials say there was a very low risk that anyone could have been infected.

However, the case has led health authorities to consider a travel ban in such cases, a source with knowledge of the matter told AFP.

"The discussion is ongoing right now. We believe that it is now more important than ever that a public health official be observing these people," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We just need some independent verification," added the source, suggesting that the woman may have been sicker than she initially let on to authorities.

CDC chief Thomas Frieden told reporters on Wednesday that Vinson "was in a group of individuals known to have exposure to Ebola. She should not have travelled on a commercial airline."

Her 37.5°C temperature did not meet the 38°C threshold that would have kept her from flying, he said.

"She did not vomit. She was not bleeding. So the level of risk of people around her would be extremely low, but because of that extra margin of safety we will be contacting them all," Frieden said.

The CDC has reached out to 132 people who took the same Frontier Airlines flight as the woman on 13 October from Ohio to Texas.

Vinson was transferred to Emory University Hospital on Wednesday for treatment.

The Atlanta, Georgia facility has a special biocontainment unit and successfully treated two American missionaries who were infected with Ebola in Liberia earlier this year.

Read more on:    us  |  ebola

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