CDC cleared Ebola nurse to fly, mulls travel ban

US authorities allowed a health worker who was later diagnosed with Ebola to fly even after she reported a low-grade fever, and are now considering a travel ban in such cases, a source said Thursday.

AFP| Updated: Oct 17, 2014, 01:19 AM IST

Washington: US authorities allowed a health worker who was later diagnosed with Ebola to fly even after she reported a low-grade fever, and are now considering a travel ban in such cases, a source said Thursday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke with the woman by phone when she was at a Cleveland, Ohio airport on October 13, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

At that time, she reported a temperature of 99.5 Fahrenheit (37.5 Celsius). The threshold that would have kept her from flying was 100.4 F (38 C).

"My understanding is she reported no symptoms to us," CDC director Thomas Frieden told lawmakers on Thursday.

When she boarded the plane, the woman, who has been identified in US media as Amber Vinson, had been categorized in a group of people that needed "active monitoring" because of their contact with a Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital on October 8.

Another nurse, Nina Pham, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas was diagnosed with Ebola on October 12, a day before Vinson boarded the flight home from visiting family in Ohio.

The CDC is trying to contact 132 people who took the same Frontier Airlines flight as the Vinson on October 13 from Ohio to Texas.

The outreach was described as a precaution, and officials said there was a very low risk that anyone could have been infected.

Some schools in Ohio and Texas closed on Thursday after learning that staff or students may have been on the same plane.

The latest case has led health authorities to consider a travel ban for health care workers who have had potential exposures to Ebola, a source with knowledge of the matter told AFP.

"The discussion is ongoing right now. We believe that it is now more important than ever that a public health official be observing these people," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We just need some independent verification," added the source, suggesting that the woman may have been sicker than she initially let on to authorities.

Frieden told reporters on Wednesday that Vinson "was in a group of individuals known to have exposure to Ebola. She should not have traveled on a commercial airline."

"She did not vomit. She was not bleeding. So the level of risk of people around her would be extremely low, but because of that extra margin of safety we will be contacting them all," Frieden said.