The second health care worker infected with Ebola flew the day before being diagnosed (and presumably an active carrier of the virus), on the airline I used for 95% of my business travel*:
A second Dallas health-care worker has tested positive for Ebola, officials said Wednesday, as they also asked 132 people who flew with that infected woman on a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday to call the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Officials also warned that additional cases of the deadly virus at the Dallas hospital where the woman worked is "a very real possibility."
Jenkins said the second infected woman, who was not identified by name or job title, was isolated within 90 minutes of reporting a fever Tuesday. She is the third person diagnosed in the U.S. with Ebola, which is currently epidemic in three West African countries.
The CDC hours later revealed that the newly infected woman had flown on Monday on Frontier Airlines Flight No.1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth. The CDC asked all passengers aboard that flight to call 1-800-232-4632. Frontier Airlines, in its own statement, said passengers who also traveled with the woman on Flight 1142 on Friday from Dallas/Fort Worth to Cleveland should also contact CDC at the same phone number.
So now we have expanded the circle of potential infectees by 132 air travelers, flight crew, the people they came in contact with, the folks that cleaned the plane, the other planes that they then cleaned, those travelers, etc.
The plane was "cleaned" twice:
Frontier Airlines said Flight 1142 remained overnight from Monday and received a thorough cleaning per normal procedures. It was also cleaned again in Cleveland on Tuesday night, the airline said.
"Cleaning per normal procedures" of course, meaning wiped down with rags and basic cleaning solutions. I'm guessing the crew wasn't wearing hazmat suits, and didn't secure and then destroy the materials they used, as the knowledge of the Ebola-stricken passenger hadn't come to light yet.
So did the crew inadvertendly make it worse, and spread the virus?
One sick patient has turned to 2 new cases, which has turned into several hundred (at least) new potential cases to track down and test.
Good thing there is "no viable threat" here in the States.
*I've been a loyal Summit-level status member with Frontier for the last decade. Recently, Frontier changed their rewards policy, and I switched all my business travel to Southwest, and havent flown them for two months. I've flown Frontier planes in and out of Dallas more times than I can remember. Glad I made the switch to Southwest.
Consider for a second what happens behind the scenes. We've seen the coverage of what has happened at the hospital in Dallas, where (at least) two staffers trained in how to avoid catching Ebola have now come down with it. In theory, these should be the people least likely to catch it - they have proper gear, are in an enclosed, controlled area, and have the CDC instructing them on procedure.
What about the "village" of folks that have dealt with the virus in Dallas, that don't have the same benefits as the hospital workers? The folks that remove the medical waste, scrubbed Duncan's apartment, transport the hazardous materials, etc. This piece in USA Today is a great testament how regular folks in Dallas rallied to help fill in gaps, and pitch in to solve some problems. It's the USA at its best - "can-do" attitudes, getting the job done, and being good neighbors.
But it also shows how quickly something like Ebola can spread, even in a Country where there is "no viable threat" of it spreading.
If hospitals workers, properly outfitted and trained have contracted the virus, what are the chances that the guy scrubbing an affected apartment could catch it? Could one of the barrels not have been completely cleaned on the outside? What is one of the barrels shifted during transport, and the lid opened slightly?
The TV show Scrubs offers a few illustrations:
It's the exponential factor at work that makes me nervous. One becomes two, two becomes four, four becomes several dozen in short order. Factor in how mobile our society is today, and how a single infected person can easily interact with others, and those "green hands" in the Scrubs scenes begin to play out and multiply.
Hopefully, Ebola is contained, and there will be no more cases here in the States, and those affected continue to improve, and survive.
In the meantime, wash your hands more frequently than usual.
The department said in a statement that the worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Health officials said the worker was among those who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola after coming to the U.S. from Liberia. Duncan died Oct. 8.
The department said a preliminary Ebola test was conducted late Tuesday at a state public health laboratory in Austin, Texas, and came back positive during the night. Confirmatory testing was being conducted at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The statement said the health care worker, who wasn't identified, was interviewed to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures. It said others who had interactions with the worker or possible exposure to the virus will be monitored.
Officials have said they don't know how the first health worker, a nurse, became infected. But the second case pointed to lapses beyond how one individual may have donned and removed personal protective garb.
"An additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimize the risk to health care workers and the patient," the CDC said in a statement.