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The second health-care worker diagnosed with Ebola in Texas flew between Cleveland and Dallas hours before she reported symptoms to state health workers, U.S. health officials said today.
The caregiver caught the deadly virus while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas this month. She flew to Dallas on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 the night of Oct. 13, according to a e-mailed statement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She then reported symptoms the next morning.
“Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers,” the agency said. The plane had 132 passengers, the CDC said.
The flight was the last of the day for the aircraft, which returned to service the next day after receiving “a thorough cleaning per our normal procedures,” Frontier Airlines said in a statement.
The health worker originally traveled to Cleveland from Dallas on Frontier flight 1142 to on Oct. 10, the airline said.
This is the second health-care worker infected with Ebola while caring for Duncan, a Liberian visitor to the U.S. who died at the hospital on Oct. 2. Asked at a briefing today about the hospital’s performance, Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer for the hospital group, said “I don’t think we have a systemic institutional problem.”
U.S. state and local health workers are attempting to combat any spread of Ebola in the U.S. after the hospital where Duncan was treated has been criticized for not having initially done enough to protect the people taking care of him.
National Nurses United, a labor union, said the hospital left Duncan for hours in an area with other patients, supplied safety suits with exposed necks, forcing nurses to use medical tape to cover their skin, played down the need for more protective face masks, and sent Duncan’s lab specimens through the system without being specially sealed.
The latest health worker infected reported a fever yesterday and was immediately isolated at the hospital, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement today. A preliminary Ebola test was run late yesterday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and results were received at about midnight.
–With assistance from Kelly Gilblom in New York.
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