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Now there are Three (in Dallas)

2014-10-16

On Tuesday, a second nurse who had treated the Liberian patient in Dallas developed symptoms and tested positive for Ebola virus.  Coincidentally, the day before symptoms began, she took a commercial flight from Ohio to Texas.  Now we have some really good tests for infectiousness.  Will anyone who was on that flight develop symptoms of Ebola?  We’ll know in three weeks.

The hospital described these two nurses as having “extensive contact” with the patient, although wearing protective gear, during the period of September 28-30, before the diagnosis of Ebola was confirmed but after the patient was admitted to the hospital.  “Extensive contact.”

The airline that the nurse flew the in the evening, before reporting symptoms in the morning, has removed the airplane she flew from service.   The pilots and staff from the plane have been put on paid leave, and all the passengers have been notified of possible exposure and advised to monitor their temperatures.   Apparently the nurse called the CDC before taking the flight and informed them that she had a low grade fever (99.5), but they allowed her to fly anyway.  The next morning she reported further symptoms and was admitted.

Another issue, or can of worms shall we say, is that not all patients with Ebola virus will report a fever.  The studies give a number of about 85 percent, which leaves fifteen percent without, perhaps, a fever.  This issue has not been clarified and will continue to haunt the people working with this virus.  If not all patients have fever, does just monitoring people’s temperatures work?

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