US health worker isolated on cruise ship

2014-10-17 21:04
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Florida - A Texas health worker who may have had contact with specimens from the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States has been isolated on a cruise ship, but is showing no symptoms of the disease, the US State Department says.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker, who did not have direct contact with now-deceased Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan but could have processed his bodily fluids, on Sunday left on a cruise from Galveston, Texas, said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The news added to growing concerns about the possible spread of Ebola in the United States after two nurses who cared for Duncan contracted the deadly virus, which has killed nearly 4 500 people, mostly in West Africa.

US President Barack Obama's administration has faced sharp criticism from some lawmakers over efforts to contain the disease at home.

Obama has said he is considering appointing an Ebola "tsar" to co-ordinate the battle but remained opposed to a ban on travel from West Africa.

The health worker aboard the cruise ship has been self-monitoring since 6 October and has not developed a fever or other symptoms of Ebola, the State Department said.

Carnival Cruise Lines said on Friday it had been notified by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that a passenger on the Carnival Magic was a lab supervisor at Texas Health Presbyterian. It said she was deemed to be "very low risk."

Return trip

The ship can carry 3 690 passengers and 1 367 crew, according to the company's website.

The State Department said the worker may have processed samples from Duncan 19 days ago. The maximum incubation window for the disease is 21 days, according to the CDC.

US lawmakers held a congressional hearing about the administration's handling of the Ebola outbreak in the United States and some have called for a tsar and a ban on travel from West Africa.

Obama said he had no philosophical objection to a travel ban but that some travelers might attempt to enter the United States by avoiding screening measures, which could lead to more Ebola cases, not fewer.

The CDC has said it was expanding its search for people who may have been exposed to Amber Vinson - one of the nurses who treated the Ebola patient in Texas - to include passengers on her flight to Cleveland, in addition to those on her return trip to Texas.

Vinson traveled to Ohio over the weekend on a Frontier Airlines flight while running a slight fever.

Concerns about Ebola exposure prompted several schools in Ohio and Texas to close because people with ties to the schools may have shared the flight with Vinson.

Read more on:    us  |  ebola

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