NEW YORK – Only hours after the Centers for Disease Control reassured the American public the health-care procedures at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas were adequate to contain Ebola, CDC announced a second health-care worker who treated the “index patient,” Thomas Eric Duncan from Liberia, has been diagnosed with the disease.
At an early morning press conference in Dallas, hospital officials admitted they are “learning as they go” as concerns mount nationwide that the CDC may not have fully understood how Ebola is transmitted and that CDC protocols may be inadequate.
CDC, nevertheless, said in an early morning press release Wednesday, “As we have said before, because of our ongoing investigation, it is not unexpected that there would be additional exposures.”
The nurse, however, identified as 29-year-old Amber Vinson, took a flight from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday, the day before she reported symptoms.
Frontier Airlines said in a statement it was notified by CDC at 1 a.m. Wednesday that a customer on a flight Monday later tested positive for Ebola.
Flight 1143 landed at 8:16 p.m. local time in Dallas-Fort Worth and “remained overnight at the airport having completed its flying for the day at which point the aircraft received a thorough cleaning per our normal procedures which is consistent with CDC guidelines prior to returning to service the next day.”
The airline said the plane also was also cleaned again in Cleveland Tuesday night. Previously the customer had traveled from Dallas Fort Worth to Cleveland on Frontier flight 1142 on Friday.
The CDC said in a statement that because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, it is asking all 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Oct. 13 to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636).
Public health professionals will begin Wednesday afternoon interviewing the passengers about the flight, answering their questions and arranging follow up.
Health officials have interviewed Vinson, who lives alone with no pets, to identify any contacts or potential exposures. Confirmatory testing was being conducted at CDC while decontamination was under way at the patient’s Dallas apartment.
Only Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden once again insisted to reporters that CDC protocols are sufficient to control the Ebola outbreak in the United States and West Africa, if they are followed precisely 100 percent of the time.
Even while trying to reassure the public, Frieden admitted Tuesday that CDC has not yet identified the incident that led to nurse Nina Pham becoming infected with Ebola as she treated Duncan.
Still, Frieden made clear CDC is counting on preventing future infections of health-care workers not by reexamining protocols but by placing a site manager in an Ebola war “to make sure protective gear is put on correctly and taken off correctly.”
He emphasized CDC intends to increase Ebola training for health-care workers and plans to limit the number of workers treating Ebola.
“We have created a CDC emergency response team that can be dispatched to be on-site at any hospital in the United States where a case of Ebola is confirmed,” he announced, doubling down on the commitment to treat Ebola patients locally rather than create a small number of specialized regional facilities.
Tuesday, Freiden stressed that every hospital in the U.S. must be capable of taking in Ebola patients as long as travel with the disease-affected West African countries remains open.
CDC is monitoring a total of 125 people, including health-care workers, who may have had contact with the virus. None have showed signs of having contracted the disease, he said.
On Wednesday, CDC announced it was sending to Dallas a second emergency Ebola health-care team. It includes doctors experienced in treating Ebola patients in Africa and experts who have worked with Doctors Without Borders on infection control protocols and trained others in Africa to follow them.
CDC also announced it was putting a site manager in place at the Dallas hospital around the clock as long as Ebola patients are receiving care.
CDC appears resolved to adhere to previously announced public policy preferences to keep open air travel with West Africa and to make all U.S. hospitals capable of diagnosing and treating Ebola patients.
To reinforce the point, CDC announced Wednesday the creation of a dedicated response team that could be on the ground within a few hours at any hospital treating an Ebola patient.
The CDC Response Team aims to provide in-person, expert support and training on infection control, health-care safety, medical treatment, contact tracing, waste and decontamination, public education and other issues.
“The CDC Response Team would help ensure that clinicians, and state and local public health practitioners, consistently follow strict standards of protocol to ensure safety of the patient and healthcare workers,” CDC said on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, CDC also held to its medical conclusion that Ebola cannot be spread by airborne contact with the disease.
“Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated,” the CDC said.
“The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it could be from 2 to 21 days) so CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious during the incubation period, meaning before symptoms such as fever develop.”
On Tuesday, WND reported the World Health Organization contradicted CDC by disclosing that 21 days is not necessarily the end of the at-risk period for the incubation of Ebola.
“Recent studies conducted in West Africa have demonstrated that 95% of confirmed cases have an incubation period in the range of 1 to 21 days; 98% have an incubation period that falls within the 1 to 42 day interval,” the WHO situation assessment said.