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Second Dallas health care worker with Ebola flew day before diagnosis

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DALLAS — A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for the Ebola, the state Department of Health said Wednesday. She will be transferred from Presbyterian Hospital to Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

The patient, 29-year-old Amber Vinson, flew from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday — the day before she reported symptoms. Because of the proximity in time between the Monday evening flight and the first report of her illness, the Center for Disease Control wants to interview all 132 passengers on her flight — Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth, which landed at 8:16 p.m. CT Monday. Passengers or others who know of passengers on that plane are asked to call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636).

In a news conference Wednesday, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said the patient should not have traveled while in the ‘self-monitoring’ period after caring for Duncan. Frieden said the patient traveled to Ohio before it was known the first nurse, 26-year-old Nina Pham, had contracted the disease. The CDC will ensure that from now on, people who are being monitored for possible Ebola symptoms will not travel, other than “controlled movement,” he said.

Health Department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said Vinson reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately placed in isolation. A preliminary test was done late Tuesday at a state laboratory in Austin, Texas. The results came back around midnight.

“Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored,” the health department said.

Clay Jenkins, a Dallas County judge, spoke at a news conference Wednesday morning and said more than 70 health care workers cared for Duncan while he was isolated at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital. Two of those are confirmed to have contracted Ebola.

Jenkins said health officials expect more cases to be confirmed.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the newest health care worker lived alone and had no pets. Residents at the apartment complex where she lives were notified. Rawlings said he visited with some of those residents early Wednesday morning. He said while the latest developments may cause additionally anxiety, Dallas officials are not fearful.

“The only way we can beat this is person by person, moment by moment, detail by detail,” he said.

Pham, the first health care worker to contract Ebola, remains in isolation at the same hospital and is reportedly doing well. Pham and Vinson had “extensive contact” with Duncan on days when he had “extensive production of body fluids” such as vomit and diarrhea. Duncan died Wednesday, Oct. 8.

According to the CDC more than 4,400 people have died of Ebola in West Africa.