Man found dead in northeast Oklahoma City park identified
A nurse with Ebola may have shown symptoms of the virus as many as four days before authorities once indicated, meaning that she might have been contagious while flying on not just one, but two commercial flights, officials said Thursday.
Amber Vinson was hospitalized Tuesday, one day after she took a Frontier flight from Cleveland to Dallas. Tests later found that Vinson -- who was among those who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, at Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital -- had Ebola.
Authorities indicated Vinson had a slightly elevated temperature of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which was below the fever threshold for Ebola, but didn't show any symptoms of the disease while on her Monday flight. This is significant because a person isn't contagious with Ebola, which spreads through the transmission of bodily fluids, until he or she has symptoms of the disease.
But on Thursday, Dr. Chris Braden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters in Ohio that "we have started to look at the possibility that she had symptoms going back as far as Saturday. ... We can't rule out (that) she might have had the start of her illness on Friday."
"So this new information now is saying we need to go back now to the flight that she took on Friday the 10th and include them in our investigation of contacts," said Braden.
The CDC announced later Thursday that is "expanding its outreach to airline passengers now to include those who flew from Dallas-Fort Worth to Cleveland on Frontier flight 1142" last Friday -- which is how Vinson got to Ohio, from Texas, originally.
Can you catch Ebola on a plane?
The medical director in Summit County, Ohio, where Vinson spent time before returning to Texas, told CNN that two things have changed: what the CDC defines as a "contact" of someone with Ebola and more information has been gathered on how Vinson was feeling.
"What the CDC has discovered, through interviews, is that she may not have been feeling well earlier than we initially thought on (Monday)," said the director, Dr. Marguerite Erme.
"... It was nothing you could point your finger at and say, 'Ah, this is a particular disease," Erme added. Nonetheless, the new information "kind of signified that maybe she had the illness longer than what she had when (hospitalized)."
Her uncle, Lawrence Vinson, said Thursday night that his niece didn't feel sick until Tuesday morning, when she went to the hospital with a temperature of 100.3 degrees (which is still below the CDC's Ebola threshold).
Yet a federal official with direct knowledge of the case gave different information to CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, relating that Vinson said she felt fatigue, muscle ache and malaise while she was in Ohio. She did not have diarrhea or vomiting while in that state or on the flight home.
The fact health officials are working from this latter assumption -- that Vinson may have been ill for longer than once thought -- could significantly expand the number of people who might have been in contact with Vinson while she was contagious.
Earlier, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden had said there's an "extremely low" risk to anyone on Frontier's Cleveland-to-Dallas flight, though his agency was reaching out to all 132 passengers as part of "extra margins of safety." Frontier is also grounding its six crew members for 21 days -- the maximum time between when a person can contract Ebola and show symptoms -- out of what its CEO says is "an abundance of caution."
Frontier now says it is notifying up to 800 passengers total, a figure that includes those on last Friday's Dallas-to-Cleveland flight, the return flight four days later, plus five subsequent trips taken by the plane used in that last flight.
And now "12 confirmed contacts of Amber Vinson in Ohio ... are currently under quarantine," according to Summit County's assistant health commissioner Donna Skoda. They include four people who worked at a bridal store, where the 29-year-old nurse went as part of her wedding planning.