Officials at the Centers for Disease Control now say that Amber Vinson, the nurse who contracted the Ebola virus in a Dallas hospital, may have exhibited symptoms earlier than originally reported.
During a press conference in Summit County on Thursday, Dr. Chris Braden with the CDC said, “We can’t rule out that she might have had the start of her illness on Friday.” He said the CDC received new information today that gives them reason to include Vinson’s flight from Dallas to Cleveland on Friday, October 10, in their investigation.
“This new information now is saying that we need to go back now to the flight that she took on Friday the 10th and include them in our investigation,” Braden told reporters on Thursday afternoon. “We’re talking with many people who may have been around her and talking with her when we can,” he said, adding that Vinson is “not very well” at this time so investigators need to be judicious in questioning her.
Braden said it is difficult to identify exactly when her symptoms began because they were not typical for the Ebola virus. “She didn’t have a fever — even when she presented for evaluation and was diagnosed — that reaches the cut-off,” he said. “That makes it a little bit hard to go back and say, ‘Well, if she had some comments that she was feeling funny, does that count?'” He said it is difficult to make such judgements when gathering information about public health decisions. CDC Director Thomas Frieden told Congress on Thursday that his agency gave Vinson permission to fly because her temperature did not reach the cut-off.
“We’re always getting more information and learning, which is why you may see a change in the context that we’ve identified,” Braden said.
He also said that passengers on the flight from Dallas to Cleveland will now be “included in the investigation.”
During press conferences in Cleveland and Akron on Wednesday, officials gave conflicting dates for when Vinson arrived in Cleveland. The Cleveland Department of Public Health said she flew on Wednesday, the 8th. Other officials said she flew into Cleveland on Friday, the 10th. Dr. Margo Erme from the Summit County Public Health Department said they were not sure about the timeline. “We have gotten conflicting dates too, so we are actually looking at getting the manifest from the airline to actually confirm that because we have actually heard both.”
In addition to the quarantine of Vinson’s stepfather’s home, the Ebola “scare” has caused a variety of closings and disruptions in the area. Several Cleveland-area school were closed this week for cleaning after a teacher and a student reported they were on the flight with Vinson from Cleveland to Dallas. Two village halls also closed for the same reason. Several area hospitals put nurses who were on the Frontier Airline flight on paid leave as a precaution and Sherwin-Williams announced that three employees who work at the headquarters in Cleveland will be working from home until it can be determined that they are not infected with the Ebola virus.