Today we’ve learned that there was no real Ebola protocol in place at Texas Presbyterian in Dallas, and that the second nurse to have contracted Ebola flew on a plane while she had a mild 99.5 degree fever.
That’s a mild fever. Some people might not even feel it, or shrug it off. But the fact that she had the fever indicates that she was beginning to be symptomatic. She appears to have flown on a commercial airline as she became symptomatic, which calls into question again how effective the new TSA screening regime can ever be.
How? Well, how long does it take to get from western Africa to the United States? About a day or two, depending on connections. Duncan flew from Monrovia, Liberia, to Brussels, Belgium, to Washington Dulles, and then to DFW from September 19 to September 20. During that roughly 24-hour travel period, a person who doesn’t even know that they are carrying the virus could go from asymptomatic to feverish, and therefore symptomatic. Duncan knew that he had been exposed.
Amber Joy Vinson, 29, heroically treated Duncan but also knew that she had been exposed to Ebola. Yet she flew to Cleveland and back to Dallas. She became symptomatic more or less in concert with her flight back to Dallas. Enhanced screening is not even being done at Dallas-Fort Worth or Cleveland, but if it had been it may not have caught her.
The AP reports that we do know now what she was doing to care for Duncan. Vinson was doing what an ICU nurse does.
Medical records provided to The Associated Press by Thomas Eric Duncan’s family show Amber Joy Vinson was actively engaged in caring for Duncan in the days before his death. The records show she inserted catheters, drew blood, and dealt with Duncan’s body fluids.
That last part is vague. Ebola victims become explosive. Everyone within range deals with their bodily fluids.