A female health worker being monitored for Ebola aboard the Carnival cruise ship returned to Texas on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. The woman may have handled a clinical specimen from Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who contracted Ebola and later succumbed to the virus, has displayed no symptoms and self-quarantined herself on the ship.
The woman worked at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital which treated Duncan. Two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, contracted Ebola and are being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. She left on the Carnival Magic to the Caribbean on Oct. 12.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their policies shortly after her departure, requiring active monitoring and reporting any symptoms such as fever. The health care worker has displayed no Ebola symptoms 19 days after possibly coming into contact with Duncan’s fluid samples. The woman and her husband were not allowed to leave the ship during a port call in Belize and have self-quarantined prior to reaching Galveston, Texas on Sunday at 6 a.m. EDT. “We are in close contact with the CDC, and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board,” Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement.
A blood sample was collected from the woman by the Coast Guard, Petty Officer Andy Kendrick told AP. The woman will be monitored as the sample gets tested for Ebola.
Health officials will be carefully monitoring the weekend as close to 50 people could be cleared as the monitoring period ends for individuals who may have come into contact with Duncan, the Dallas Morning News reported. Of the 48 initial contacts being monitored by the CDC, 14 have already been cleared. There are 159 people in the Dallas area being monitored after coming into contact with either Duncan or Pham. Vinson flew commercial after contracting Ebola and 116 people are being monitored in Ohio after coming into contact with the nurse.
Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan published a full page ad in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News, discussing the hospital’s handling of Duncan and improvements to safety procedures. “I am grateful to our team of caregivers for their dedication, compassion and tireless work in caring for these individuals and every patient who enters our doors. At the same time I know that, as an institution, we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge,” Berdan said.