Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Dallas, Second Health Care Worker Tests Positive For Ebola


We begin this hour with the news from Dallas today that a second health care worker at Presbyterian Hospital has tested positive for Ebola. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the nurse, Amber Vinson, also contracted the virus while treating Liberian Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. And there was another development in this story. It emerged that Vinson traveled on a commercial airliner to and from Ohio, returning just one day before showing symptoms of Ebola. From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: For the last three weeks, the Ebola story in Dallas has been a series of bombshells. The initial misdiagnosis by Presbyterian Hospital of Thomas Eric Duncan, the news that a young nurse had become ill with Ebola and now the revelation that a second health care worker who'd been infected was able to travel to and from Ohio on a Frontier Airlines Airbus 320. Dr. Tom Frieden is the director of the CDC.


TOM FRIEDEN: The patient traveled to Ohio before it was known that the first health care worker was ill. She should not have traveled on a commercial airline. We will, from this moment forward, ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement.

GOODWYN: Frieden said their investigation so far leads them to believe that both health care workers became infected soon after they began caring for Duncan. It took two full days for the state to confirm that Duncan indeed had Ebola, and during those two days when Duncan was at his most infectious, it appears the hospital was not in full Ebola alert mode. Here's the CDC director again.


FRIEDEN: Our investigations increasingly suggest that the first several days before the patient was diagnosed appear to be the highest risk period. These two health care workers both worked on those days and both had extensive contact with the patient when the patient had extensive production of body fluids because of vomiting and diarrhea.

GOODWYN: Both Presbyterian Hospital and the CDC seem to have been caught short at the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in Dallas and it's coming back to haunt them. Now the CDC is in the position of having to ask passengers on the Frontier flights to please get in touch. The agency says it's just a precaution. But the CDC's reassurances of we got this are wearing thin for at least one group, and that's nurses. Rose Ann DeMoro is the executive director of National Nurses United.

ROSE ANN DEMORO: They've been giving the hospital far too much credit in terms of assuming that they would actual take their advice. We've been told a lot of things that have been wrong, we've been lied to. What happened in Dallas could happen anywhere.

GOODWYN: The report said to be for nurses at Presbyterian Hospital were not encouraging. They complained they were forced to cobble together whatever protective gear they could find. Registered nurse Debra Burger said the results speak for themselves.

DEBRA BURGER: Nurses had to interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment was available at the time when he had copious amounts of projectile vomiting, diarrhea and other bodily fluids coming from his body. Hospital officials allowed nurses who interacted with Mr. Duncan to then continue normal patient care duties.

GOODWYN: One Ebola patient is enough for Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Amber Vinson is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which has successfully treated two other Ebola patients. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.