Ebola in Dallas: Your Post-Weekend Update

Here's a roundup of the (mostly good) Ebola news from over the weekend:

The condition of the patients: Amber Vinson is still being treated at Emory University hospital in Atlanta. She remains in stable condition. Over the weekend, her family issued a statement asking for privacy and disputing claims that she was acting irresponsibly when she flew from Cleveland to Dallas with a low-grade fever:

Before traveling, Amber, working through her Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital assistant manager, contacted the CDC and was fully cleared for travel. On Sunday, while in Ohio, Amber received word that Ms. Pham, a colleague she worked closely with during treatment of Mr. Duncan, had been diagnosed with Ebola. Amber was contacted by the Dallas County Health Department and told that the agency had begun conducting outreach to all of the nurses who had direct contact with Mr. Duncan for status updates on their health. She reported that she was fine and provided her temperature reading at that time. By phone, county officials read Amber a letter that contained information about symptoms to observe and report should they develop. She was also told to continue self-monitoring and was asked to report these results twice daily to the agency. During this conversation, Amber, unsettled by the news of Ms. Phan, asked if arrangements could be made for her to fly her back to Dallas on Sunday as a precaution. Amber was particularly concerned considering that Ms. Pham, being a capable nurse who followed the same Dallas County mandates, had become infected. Officials assured Amber that her concerns were unfounded because her temperatures were within the appropriate measures and asymptomatic in all other areas. Amber then asked if, after returning to Dallas, she would be allowed to reside at the hospital until the end of her 21-day monitoring period. She was told that this was the first request of its kind, but that the agency would consider the option. Once again, Amber was assured that she should not be alarmed and prompted to continue self-monitoring. The Dallas County Health Department informed her that, upon her return to Dallas, someone from their agency would record at least one of her readings, in person, daily.

The following day, Amber prepared for her return to Dallas, and following the request of the Dallas County Health Department, reported her temperature before boarding her flight -- three different times. Her initial flight was delayed and two subsequent delayed flights prompted Amber to report her temperature, as instructed, each time she anticipated departure. In all three instances, she was cleared to return to Texas.

One day after returning to Dallas, on the morning of Tuesday, October 14th, Amber first reported a temperature of 100.3 degrees to the Dallas County Department of Health. Immediately after, Amber proactively admitted herself to Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital, and has been quarantined since.

Later in the statement, Vinson's family notes that they are being represented by high profile attorney Billy Martin.

Pham remains at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. Doctors there have described her as a "trooper" and say she is in good spirits. Both she and Vinson have been able to communicate with friends and family using Facetime. Pham's dog, Bentley, remains in isolation and will have his stool and urine tested for Ebola three times a day for the remainder of his treatment. The city assures those worried about the King Charles Spaniel that he will be placed in the special kennel required to collect the specimens as little as possible.

Thomas Eric Duncan's original contacts finish monitoring.: The first 43 people placed under watch for contact with Dallas' first Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, have been cleared of risk for the disease. Among them is Duncan's family, who has been staying at a home in Oak Cliff provided by an anonymous donor. County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings have pledged to help the family resettle, as their lease at The Ivy apartments in Vickery Meadow expired last month. Five more people will move off the list in the next few days if they don't show symptoms, Jenkins says. Five DISD students thought to have been in contact with Duncan were cleared to return to school Tuesday, but four of the students surprised officials by showing up Monday, The Dallas Morning News reports. Three Richardson ISD students who were in contact with Duncan will transfer to DISD. If no additional people show symptoms, November 7 is the day all people being monitored will be cleared.

Duncan's fiancee, family to stay a Dallas Catholic Diocese conference center: Until they can find an appropriate home, Louise Troh, Duncan's fiance, and her family will continue to stay in a four-bedroom cabin at the Catholic Conference & Formation Center.

Mayor Rawlings turns down apology from Liberian president: The Guardian reports that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called Rawlings to say she felt accountable for Ebola coming to Dallas. Rawlings expressed to Sirleaf that Dallas was part of the global community and that the Liberian people were not at fault.

Nigerian Ebola containment is instructive.:

Lagos, Nigeria, faced a similar situation to Dallas. A Liberian-American man flew into the city -- which was otherwise untouched by Ebola -- and brought the disease with him. The patient was isolated and infected a few healthcare workers who cared for him, but the disease was contained. Patrick Sawyer, a diplomat, was in contact with about 300 people in Lagos. Those people were quickly traced and placed under the same 21-day monitoring regime as people potentially in contact with a symptomatic Ebola patient in Dallas. Nigeria is now, once again, Ebola free.

Presbyterian worker gets off the cruise ship in Galveston:

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee being monitored for Ebola exposure on a Carnival cruise returned to Texas after the shipped docked in Galveston early Sunday morning. The ship had earlier been turned away from ports in Cozumel, Mexico, and Belize. The worker on the boat has not shown any symptoms and has tested negative for Ebola (although, it should be noted, that an Ebola test of a person without symptoms would never be positive regardless of whether the person had Ebola).

Non-Dallas Ebola news you should check out:

The New York Times has a really interesting editorial up about efforts by Cuban healthcare workers to fight Ebola and potential collaboration with the United States.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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