A Dallas nurse who treated an Ebola patient contacted federal health officials before boarding a passenger flight Monday due to a slightly elevated temperature, but was allowed to board the flight because she was not exhibiting additional symptoms of Ebola.
Amber Vinson's temperature was 99.5 degrees — below the 100.4 reading for a fever, according to a federal official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A fever is one of the symptoms of Ebola. Other symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. She was not asked to avoid boarding the flight.
CDC officials believe that Vinson was not exhibiting further symptoms on the Oct. 13 flight.
"The patient was not showing any other symptoms while on board the plane — no vomiting or diarrhea. The only symptom Amber was showing was the fever," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told ABC News.
Airline officials concurred, stating that Vinson's only symptom at the time was the slightly elevated temperature.
Vinson's temperature continued to rise after the plane landed, authorities said. By late Tuesday, she was placed in isolation, with tests confirming her diagnosis as the second health care worker at a Texas hospital to contract Ebola. CDC workers then moved to contact passengers who traveled beside Vinson.
The nurse was flown Wednesday to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the facility that successfully treated two missionaries who were diagnosed with Ebola while performing aid work in Africa, Dr. Kent Brantly and nurse Nancy Writebol. A third individual, an unidentified World Health Organization worker, was admitted to Emory on Sept. 9.
Following the diagnosis, the airline and other organizations are taking extra precautions. Frontier Airlines placed six crew members — two pilots and four flight attendants — on paid leave for 21 days "out of an abundance of caution," CEO David Siegel said in a statement.
"This was over and above CDC guidance that stated that our flight crews were safe to fly," Siegel said.
The jet that carried Vinson and 131 others to Texas is in a hanger in Denver, the airline said, ready for its fourth cleaning. The plane's seat covers and carpet were removed around the area where Vinson was sitting, and the environmental filters were replaced, the airline said. Cleanings were also scheduled at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
Additionally, Ebola screenings begin today at four new airports: Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Extra precautions are also being taken for people who shared flights with Vinson. Three Texas schools — North Belton Middle School, Sparta Elementary and the Belton Early Childhood School — will be closed today after two students were on Flight 1143 Tuesday, school officials announced.
Two Cleveland schools, Solon Middle School and Parkside Elementary School, will also be closed today. A staff member there flew on a Frontier Airline plane that may have carried Vinson to Texas the previous day, school officials said.
Employees from the Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth on an Oct. 10 flight with Vinson were placed on paid leave.