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Dallas Ebola Nurse Amber Vinson 'Should Not Have Traveled,' CDC Head Says

The nurse boarded a plane after recording a temperature of 99.5 degrees.
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The latest Dallas nurse to contract Ebola boarded a plane in Cleveland two days ago with a slight fever and should not have flown, federal health officials said Wednesday.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters that the nurse had a temperature of 99.5 degrees before she got on the plane on Monday.

Because of that reading, and because she had treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, the nurse should not have been on the plane, he said.

“She should not have traveled on a commercial airline,” Frieden said.

Authorities in Cleveland identified the nurse as Amber Vinson. Frieden said she was ill but clinically stable. She was to be flown later Wednesday to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, one of the country’s top hospitals equipped to handle Ebola.

Federal health officials were trying to track down and interview all 132 people on the flight, Frontier Airlines Flight 1143. Still, Frieden said that there was “an extremely low likelihood” that anyone on the flight was exposed to Ebola.

“She did not vomit. She was not bleeding,” Frieden said. “So the level of risk of people around her should be extremely low.”

Vinson is the second to test positive for Ebola after treating Duncan. Authorities announced the first positive test on Sunday, a day before the second worker returned to Dallas from Cleveland. She had flown to Cleveland on Oct. 8, according to health officials in Cleveland.

Frieden said that the nurse had had “extensive contact” with Duncan, including while he was vomiting and had diarrhea. Duncan contracted the virus in Liberia and flew to Dallas in September. He died earlier this month.

Frieden said an investigation had found that some workers at the Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian, layered some of their protective gear and taped their gloves to their hands, both of which can increase the risk of contracting the virus.

Emory University Hospital treated two other Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, earlier in the outbreak. They recovered and were later released. It is treating another Ebola patient who arrived Sept. 9 and has not been publicly identified.

— Erin McClam