(Bloomberg) — The second health-care worker diagnosed with Ebola in Texas flew from Cleveland to Dallas hours before she reported her symptoms, U.S. officials said.
The caregiver caught the deadly virus while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas earlier this month. She flew to Dallas on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 the night of Oct. 13, according to a e- mailed statement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She then reported symptoms the next morning.
“Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers,” the agency said. The plane had 132 passengers, the CDC said.
The flight was the last of the day for the aircraft, which returned to service the next day after receiving “a thorough cleaning per our normal procedures,” Frontier Airlines said in a statement. It has since been taken out of service.
The health worker originally traveled to Cleveland from Dallas on Frontier flight 1142 on Oct. 10, the airline said. The CDC didn’t say that it was contacting people on that flight. Ebola is only contagious while a person is symptomatic.
Frontier is owned by Indigo Partners LLC, a unit of private equity and asset management firm Carlyle Group LP.
This is the second health-care worker infected with Ebola while caring for Duncan, a Liberian visitor to the U.S. who died at the hospital on Oct. 8.
Allowed to fly?
Sana Syed, a spokeswoman for the city of Dallas, said she didn’t know why the caregiver was allowed to fly. She said news accounts this morning were the first the city has heard about it.
“That’s a CDC question,” Syed said in a telephone interview. “We’re trying to figure that out for ourselves.”
Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said while the health worker was self-monitoring for potential symptoms after caring for Duncan, “because at that point she was in a group of individuals known to have exposure to Ebola, she should not have traveled on a commercial airline.”
Frieden said the new patient didn’t have a fever, nausea or vomiting on the plane from Cleveland to Dallas, suggesting “that the risk to any around that individual would have been extremely low.”