The Carnival Cruise An Ebola Worker Is Isolated On Is, Presumably, A Holiday Ruined For Everybody

Where's one of the last places you'd want a person potentially infected with Ebola to be hanging out? On a boat with loads of other people in the middle of the Caribbean. But that's where the latest Dallas Ebola worker is, on a Carnival cruise ship, sailing around the brilliant blue seas near Belize. Unfortunately for the worker, she's now in isolation on the ship. Which pretty much makes it the worst vacation ever for everyone.

The health-care worker is one of those who had cared for Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Although she's shown no signs of the illness so far, she may have handled some of Duncan's lab specimens — this, considering that already two of Duncan's other health-care workers have tested positive for the illness, has been enough to set off some alarm bells.

In a statement Friday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the State Department is working on bringing the as-yet unnamed health-care worker home as soon as possible. (The Belize government refused a U.S. request earlier this week to let the woman get off in Belize so that she could fly home in an air ambulance from itsterritory, perhaps understandably.) In the meantime, the worker has quarantined herself and her partner in one of the ship's cabins.

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Said Psaki:

It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed [Duncan’s fluid samples]. The cruise line has actively supported CDC’s efforts to speak with the individual, whom the cruise ship’s medical doctor has monitored and confirmed was in good health. Following this examination, the hospital employee and traveling partner have voluntarily remained isolated in a cabin.
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The reason the health-care worker was allowed to board the ship in the first place? At the time, the CDC still hadn't finessed its protocol — all it had required from those who'd had contact with an Ebola-infected patient was self-monitoring, which basically just involves daily temperature checking. Now, of course, the mandates in place are much stricter: Just this week, 75 hospital employees had to sign legal documents saying they wouldn't use public transportation or even go to public places.

The two Dallas health-care workers who tested positive for the illness — Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson — were part of a staff of nearly 100 workers who worked with Duncan. Although the probability of more workers testing positive is low, the CDC is working to trace each and every one, just to be on the safe side.

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Yeah, I'd say extra caution is definitely a good tactic when it comes to Ebola.

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