Dallas Nurse Amber Vinson Free of Ebola and Released from Hospital

New Ebola case in Dallas has health officials working to identify potential contacts

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Four days after Dallas nurse Nina Pham tested positive for Ebola, a second health care worker who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has also tested positive for the virus.

Update (10/28/2014): Amber Vinson was released from Emory University Hospital earlier today. "I'm so greatful to be well," Vinson said at a press conference upon her release, according to Reuters. "While this is a day for celebration and gratitude, I ask that we not lose focus on the thousands of families who continue to labor under the burden of this disease in West Africa," she said.

Update (10/28/2014): Officials at Emory University Hospital announced that Amber Vinson is now free of Ebola and will be discharged from that hospital, according to a CNN report. She is scheduled to make a statement at 12 pm CT. Vinson's discharge leaves only one remaining Ebola patient — Dr. Craig Spencer — currently being treated in a US hospital. Spencer contracted the disease while caring for patients in the West African country of Guinea. As of Monday, New York City health officials said Spencer was in serious but stable condition.

Update (10/23/2014): According to Yahoo News, the family of Dallas nurse Amber Vinson announced that she is free of the virus. Medical staff at Emory University Hospital have yet to confirm Vinson's status.

"Health care providers will determine by diagnostic whether a patient is free of Ebola virus," Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesperson, told Yahoo News in an email. "We have criteria we ask medical staff to meet, but the determination is made by medical care provider."

Update (10/20/2014): A total of 116 people in Ohio are being monitored for Ebola symptoms after Dallas nurse Amber Joy Vinson visited the state last week. Vinson was in Ohio before health officials suspected that she had contracted Ebola. According to WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Ohio, the Ebola quarantine puts travel restrictions on the 116 people who are under surveillance.

Update (10/17/2014): Amber Joy Vinson has been transferred to Emory University Hospital. While being transferred, four workers in hazmat suits helped her from the ambulance to the airplane. A fifth man, however, was wearing plain clothes, which raised concerns about safety protocols. CBS News reports that the man has been identified as a medical safety coordinator with Phoenix Air, the company that has provided transportation for 11 Ebola patients. According to a Phoenix Air executive, safety coordinators do not wear safety gear so that they can be the "eyes and ears" of the team, who have limited vision due to their gear. Such safety coordinators are trained to remain a safe distance from the patients. According to reports, this safety coordinator did not break protocol.

Update (10/16/2014): CNN reports that Dallas nurse Amber Joy Vinson may have had Ebola symptoms earlier than previously thought. Out of precaution, Frontier Airlines is reaching out to as many as 800 passengers who were on Vinson's flight from Ohio to Texas and on the five subsequent flights that used the same plane. The CDC maintains that there is an extemely low risk to anyone on Vinson's flight.

Update (10/15/2014): According to Yahoo! News, Amber Joy Vinson is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where two health workers who contracted Ebola in West Africa were successfully treated earlier this year.

Update (10/15/2014): Yahoo! News reports that the second nurse diagnosed with Ebola flew from Cleveland, OH, to Dallas, TX, the day before she was diagnosed. Amber Joy Vinson, 29, did not have symptoms while she was on Frontier Airlines flight 1143, but CDC officials have asked the other 132 passengers to call the CDC so officials can interview them and assess their risk of infection.

The health worker was immediately isolated after developing a fever Tuesday, according to the Texas health department.

Results from a preliminary test showed the patient to have Ebola. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will run a test on a separate sample to confirm those results.

"Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored," according to a press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The Ebola virus causes Ebola virus disease. This often fatal disease is marked by symptoms like high fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or with contaminated objects like needles. People are not contagious until they develop symptoms.

The health worker, the second person to contract Ebola in the US, was placed in isolation less than a day after showing symptoms, so the number of potential contacts is expected to be small.

Nina Pham was the first person to get Ebola on US soil. Both Pham and this second health worker cared for Liberian Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan died in the hospital last week.

According to a CNN report, there have been concerns about safety protocols and preparedness at the hospital. One official told CNN that, in hindsight, Duncan should have been transferred to one of four US hospitals with units specially designed to deal with a highly infectious disease like Ebola.

CNN reports that the CDC is setting up an Ebola response team. According to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, this team will be sent to any place where there is a confirmed case of Ebola.

A trained response team like this, Dr. Frieden said, might have prevented Pham from contracting the disease.

Review Date: 
October 15, 2014
Last Updated:
October 28, 2014