Thursday, October 16, 2014

 

Amber Vinson steps from an ambulance at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta

Amber Vinson steps from an ambulance at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia October 15, 2014.



2nd US health care worker with Ebola transferred to Atlanta hospital


A second Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola was transferred Wednesday from Texas to a specialized hospital isolation unit in Atlanta that has already treated three Americans with the virus.

The nurse, 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson, was flown from Dallas to Atlanta in a jet. Upon landing in Atlanta Wednesday night, Vinson was helped into an ambulance and a police motorcade escorted the ambulance as it traveled to Emory University Hospital.

Vinson was one of the nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died at the Dallas hospital last week of the Ebola virus. Another of Duncan's nurses, Nina Pham, is also being treated for Ebola at the Texas hospital and was in "improved condition" Wednesday, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Emory and three other U.S. hospitals have specialized isolation units to care for Ebola with less risk of spread to health care workers.

Fears of the Ebola virus deepened Wednesday with word that Vinson caught the disease from a patient and flew across the Midwest aboard an airliner the day before she was diagnosed. President Barack Obama canceled a campaign trip to address the outbreak.

It's not clear how Vinson contracted the virus, though the second case among health workers pointed to lapses beyond how one individual may have donned and removed protective garb.

Authorities declined to say what type of care the nurse provided to Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola after coming to the U.S. from Liberia.

"The second health care worker reported no symptoms and no fever; however, because at that point she was in a group of individuals known to have Ebola, she should not have traveled on a commercial airline,” Frieden said Wednesday.

Frieden said no one else involved in Duncan's care will be allowed to travel "other than in a controlled environment."

But Wednesday night, a CDC team member in Dallas told FOX 4 that the CDC knew Vinson was flying and that she called the CDC with self-monitoring updates during her trip.

Infected Ebola patients are not considered contagious until they have symptoms. Frieden said it was unlikely that other passengers or airline crew members were at risk because the nurse did not have any vomiting or bleeding.

Even so, the CDC is alerting the 132 passengers aboard the Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday "because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning." Officials are asking them to call the health agency so they can be monitored. The woman flew from Dallas to Cleveland on Oct. 10.

Cleveland Health Director Toinetta Parrilla said Vinson flew to Ohio to prepare for her wedding. She had contact with her fiance and mother.

Kent State University said the infected nurse was related to three university employees and that they were asking the workers to stay off campus for 21 days "out of an abundance of caution."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the additional infection is "a serious concern."

"What happened there (in Dallas), regardless of the reason, is not acceptable. It shouldn't have happened," Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of NIH, said Wednesday on MSNBC.

The nurse reported a fever Tuesday and was in isolation within 90 minutes, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

"We are looking at every element of our personal protection equipment and infection control in the hospital," said Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, which operates Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Pham will be monitored in Dallas to determine the best place for her care, Frieden said.

The CDC has acknowledged that the government was not aggressive enough in managing Ebola and containing the virus as it spread from an infected patient to a nurse at a Dallas hospital.

The second case may help health officials determine where the infection-control breach is occurring and make practices safer for health workers everywhere. For example, if both health workers were involved in drawing Duncan's blood, placing an intravenous line or suctioning mucus when Duncan was on a breathing machine, that would be recognized as a particularly high-risk activity. It might also reveal which body fluids pose the greatest risk.

Emergency responders in hazardous-materials suits began decontamination work before dawn Wednesday at the Dallas apartment complex where the second nurse lives. Officials said she lives alone with no pets.

Notices handed out to neighbors advise that "a health care worker who lives in your area has tested positive for Ebola."

Early Wednesday morning, decontamination crews were at work at Vinson's unit in northeast Dallas.


Frieden outlined new steps this week designed to stop the spread of the disease, including the creation of an Ebola response team, increased training for health care workers nationwide and changes at the Texas hospital to minimize the risk of more infections.

The new case lends support to nurses' claims this week that they have inadequate training and in some cases, protective gear, to take care of Ebola patients.

"They're not prepared" for what they are being asked to do, said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, a union with 185,000 members.

Based on statements from nurses it did not identify, the union described how Duncan was left in an open area of the emergency room for hours. It said staff treated Duncan for days without the correct protective gear, that hazardous waste was allowed to pile up to the ceiling and safety protocols constantly changed.

Officials say at least 76 people at the hospital might have been exposed, and all are being monitored for fever and other symptoms.

Pham, 26, released a statement Tuesday through the hospital saying she was "doing well." She was listed in good condition.
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