Don't Panic. But, Dallas Patient Two Flew on a Commercial Air Flight

It is now known that the second infected health worker who had cared for Dallas Index Patient Duncan took a Monday air flight from Cleveland to Dallas-Forth Worth after she started to have a fever. It was a Frontier airline flight and it arrived in Dallas at 8:16 PM, was put to bet overnight, received normal cleaning, and resumed service Tuesday. There were more than 130 other people on that plane.

Chances are Ebola is not THAT contagious when it is just staring up. You really need those bodily fluids. There is almost ZERO chance that anyone was infected on that plane, or at the airport, or anywhere else.

“We will, from this moment forward, ensure that no individual monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement,” Frieden said Wednesday. He said the agency would work with state and local authorities to enforce this restriction.

So, OK then.

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Of greater interest may be the fact that having shared the plane that arrived at 8:16pm with 130 people, the healthcare worker spent the night in the airport. She got a fever the following morning and was immediately put in isolation when she arrived at the hospital at 10:30 am. When did she begin to be infectious? Especially when there is still no clear understanding of how either worker contracted Ebola.

As concerning as this might be we can only hope stern sensibilities come to the fore and prevent a rash of restrictions to deal with this that are as damaging to civil rights as those after September 11.

Apparently they are now banning everyone who cared for Duncan from public transportation for three weeks. I suppose this is reasonable now, but as I commented earlier, even if you bar them from caring for non-Ebola patients (which also seems wise) they'll still have to get to work in order to care for the current Ebola patients. (Best wishes to those people - it is good luck that they are both young and healthy and will get supportive care early.) I suppose you could assemble a team of workers who would live on a floor of the hospital for several weeks, but how many nurses are there who don't have kids, pets, aging parents or just unhappy spouses to consider?

Staffing is going to be tough as it is, now that people - and their families - know they really are risking their lives. CDC had better get some better training or better equipment in place stat, because if even one more nurse gets infected caring for these two, it's not going to make caring for the next index patient a popular job. Most jobs carry some potential health risk and you accept that, but any real possibility of bringing Ebola home to one's spouse and kids would be a deal-breaker for a lot of people.

So is it time to seal the border with Texas yet? ;-)

By Dan Owen (not verified) on 15 Oct 2014 #permalink

In reply to by jane (not verified)

Dan, yes, that would be the sensible thing, and should have been done years ago!

Note to secessionists: Careful what you ask for, you might just get it.

By Rob Honeycutt (not verified) on 15 Oct 2014 #permalink

Greg, which border of Texas should we seal?

Your Nation is learning the hard way so that others can be spared. The course of action over the last few days will form part of history. God willing, most of the interaction took place between non-infectious hosts, because air travel is such an unforgiving method to spread this disease. Probably this will not happen again internally because the carers will be better monitored and for longer periods. Let us hope that there are no further cases in this area.

By Elsdon Ward (not verified) on 15 Oct 2014 #permalink

Wow, it's like someone is trying to fail at containing this. After all the freakout over ebola, how can so many health care "professionals" manage to drop the ball every step of the way with this? It's like a sick game, where the object if to go from patient zero to pandemic in as few steps as possible. Maybe they can hold a fundraiser for the ebola ward. Do you think a kissing booth would be popular?

@ ^ artor : Depends who's in it I'd say!

@Dean : Which side? I'd suggest all of them. They do like to claim rugged independence and Mexico hasn'tyet got the ebola either so why not dig a moat around the entire state and fill it with piranhas - with lasers on their heads for good measure? ;-)

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 15 Oct 2014 #permalink

PS. Admittedly digging the Gulf of Mexico side of that suggested moat may present a slight engineering challenge!

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 15 Oct 2014 #permalink

let us be real. The Ro of ebola is 2 the same infectious rating as hepatitis. Basically you aren't going to get hep unless you stick yourself. did this nurse get it? That is the question.
I'm guessing human error. Most likely not following correct procedure. But for those who haven't worked in a hospital, it's easy to get lazy. You are around patients all day. You need to draw blood you bring your tray in and put it on a surface. Later on you touch the tray. Bob's your uncle.

That went from hubris and incompetence to "asking for it" really fast.
Assumung the best and then not acting on even that has to be a good idea so let's now blame the victims.

And the "don't panic" and "seal off Texas" punchlines are funny exactly untill the flu season hits. Then we'll see what the defence measures are really worth.
Honestly, I doubt they can take more than 100 suspected cases before crashing.
But even then it won't be the diseases causing panic. It wil be that array of cocksure announcements that are provern wrong on almost a daily basis.
That lost trust in the scientific community, including writers, will be the instigator.

Preparing, like, for the *worst* case, instead of endless academic ego games? Anyone?

Which side? I’d suggest all of them

Actually, as I think you guessed, my question was in jest. There have been "concerns" for so long about people coming in from the south with all sorts of unfounded fears attached, most recently illnesses, that I tried to say that the immediate problem might be sick residents of Texas coming to the rest of the country. Clearly the humor attempt failed.

Apparently this nurse did not just unilaterally get on a flight with a slightly above-normal temperature. She called her CDC contact and asked if she should go ahead and fly and he said sure, no worries. Really, was that wise? I suspect that guy's nuts are in a jar on Frieden's desk by now.

Seems like everyone in the medical community is on the steep side of the real life learning curve at the moment.

The CDC would do well to learn more about a group called Angel Flight, which is a network of aircraft owners who provide free medical flights to those in need. Surely they could have avoided the commercial flight and the flight from Dallas to the CDC and had her go straight to Atlanta from Cleveland on a private aircraft.

By Rob Honeycutt (not verified) on 16 Oct 2014 #permalink

"I suspect that guy’s nuts are in a jar on Frieden’s desk by now."

I think Frieden's re-assigning him to be the primary caretaker of the patients at Emory... "No worries, right?"

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 16 Oct 2014 #permalink

@16. Dean : I got that you were wryly humourous there and was responding in kind actually so maybe not such a failure.

By Astrostevo (not verified) on 17 Oct 2014 #permalink

Why does Ebola spread so rampantly in the current affected regions, but not in an enclosed airplane?

By AS Knoetze (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink