CDC Knew Ebola Patient Amber Vinson Had A Fever & Told Her To Fly Anyway
Health care worker Amber Vinson flew on a commercial plane from Cleveland to Dallas hours before she was admitted into Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with symptoms of Ebola. On Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden said in a news briefing that the nurse shouldn't have traveled. But now, Vinson claims the CDC approved of her flying, contradicting Frieden's statement and further complicating the developing Ebola situation in the United States.
In an interview with CBS Dallas-Fort Worth, Vinson said she reported her low-grade fever to CDC officials prior to boarding the return flight to Dallas on Monday evening. However, CDC officials allegedly OK'ed her to fly because her fever didn't reach the 100.4-degree threshold.
CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. John LaPook said on Wednesday:
This nurse, Nurse Vinson, did in fact call the CDC several times before taking that flight and said she has a temperature, a fever of 99.5, and the person at the CDC looked at a chart and because her temperature wasn’t 100.4 or higher she didn’t officially fall into the category of high risk.
The CDC confirmed to FOX 4 News in Dallas that Vinson did call the agency on Monday night, and that officials there gave her approval to fly.
An unnamed government official also confirmed to NBC Dallas-Forth Worth Wednesday night that Vinson called before her flight, asking if it was OK to travel. According to the government official, CDC staff members who took her call Monday night checked the agency's website to assess her risk, and cleared her travel because her fever was not over 100 degrees.
The government official told NBC News:
These two nurses who are infected as well as the others who cared for Duncan but were wearing protective gear — a lot of them are falling into the category of 'uncertain risk.' She represents uncharted water for us ... She did not fall into a clear category.
So, why did Frieden criticize Vinson's decision when it was made, in part, by colleagues at his agency? The unnamed government official told NBC DFW that Frieden may not have had all the information at the time of the news briefing — so there's a very good possibility that he didn't know about this, either. However, Frieden did note in Wednesday's news briefing that she did "report that she took her temperature and found it to be 99.5."
Vinson was transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas, where she contracted the deadly virus from patient Thomas Eric Duncan, to Emory Hospital in Atlanta Wednesday evening. Emory Hospital is where Ebola patients Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were treated — and eventually cleared — for the virus. It's unclear at this time why Vinson is being moved while infected health care worker Nina Pham is staying in Dallas. Pham, however, has received a blood transfusion from Brantly, and her condition is improving, the hospital said on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Frieden said during Wednesday's news briefing that no other health care workers who have treated Ebola patients are allowed to travel.
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