What We Know About Amber Joy Vinson, 2nd Dallas Nurse Diagnosed With Ebola - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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What We Know About Amber Joy Vinson, 2nd Dallas Nurse Diagnosed With Ebola

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    What We Know About Amber Joy Vinson, 2nd Dallas Nurse Diagnosed With Ebola
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    29-year-old Amber Vinson became the second nurse from Texas Health Presbyterian diagnosed with Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan who died from the virus on Oct. 8 in Dallas.

    Amber Joy Vinson was the second American nurse to contract the Ebola virus after treating the first patient who was diagnosed in the United States at a Dallas hospital.

    On Wednesday, her family announced that doctors can detect no sign of Ebola in her blood.  

    Here's what we know so far about Vinson, her background, her treatment, the people who may have come in contact with her and precautions being taken.

    WHO IS AMBER VINSON?

    Amber Joy Vinson, 29, is a nurse who was planning her upcoming wedding before she was diagnosed with Ebola this week.

    Vinson is from Akron, Ohio, and has two degrees from Kent State University, where three of her relatives work. She was licensed as a registered nurse in Ohio in 2009 and remains licensed there, records show, though she has since moved to Dallas. She became an R.N. in Texas in 2012.

    A relative told NBC News that Vinson was drawn to healthcare work at a young age and called her "sweet and kind."

    "She wanted to help people. Amber has always been kind and compassionate," said Diane Sloane Rhynes, whose late brother was married to Vinson's mother for several years and who considers Vinson her niece.

    Vinson had flown from Dallas to Ohio on Oct. 10 to visit her family there and plan her upcoming May wedding, before she returned Oct. 13. Now, she is being treated in isolation for Ebola.

    HOW DID SHE GET EBOLA?

    Vinson, 29, is a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and was part of the team that treated Thomas Eric Duncan — the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States — after he was hospitalized for the virus in late September.

    She had worn protective gear including face shields, hazardous materials suits and protective footwear as she inserted catheters, drew blood and dealt with Duncan's body fluids. She was working on three days when Duncan experienced "extensive production" of diarrhea and vomiting, the CDC said.  

    Vinson was hospitalized with symptoms on Tuesday, Oct. 14, and tested positive for Ebola a day later. It is still not clear how she contracted the virus, leading the CDC to call her diagnosis "a serious concern."

    HOW AND WHY DID SHE TRAVEL TO OHIO?

    Vinson flew from Dallas to Cleveland on Oct. 10, two days after Duncan died, to visit her mother and fiancé and to plan her upcoming wedding, a health official said. She flew back to DFW on Monday, Oct. 13, on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143.

    Vinson, who had been self-monitoring and was reporting her temperature to epidemiology teams routinely, had called the CDC before flying from Cleveland back to Dallas, saying she had a temperature of 99.5 degrees, an unidentified government spokesman told NBC News.

    At the time, CDC guidance indicated that potentially exposed health care workers categorized as "uncertain risk" could fly commercially if they did not have a temperature of 100.4 degrees. She was not told that she should not fly.

    However, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Wednesday that Vinson should not have boarded the plane to Dallas, because of her slight temperature and because she had had contact with Duncan. 

    A day after she landed, she was hospitalized, and one day later, she was confirmed to have contracted the potentially deadly disease. 

    WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE PEOPLE ABOARD HER FLIGHTS

    The CDC contacted and interviewed 105 of the 132 people aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 1143, the flight she took from Cleveland home to DFW on Oct. 13. Several passengers who were near her on the plane will be monitored by health officials for symptoms, the agency said Oct. 16.

    Passengers on the flight are being split into two groups: those who are at low risk, and the “few passengers” who sat close to Vinson. Those who are at low risk and will be kept informed, while those who were close to her will be interviewed and monitored for fever and other symptoms for 21 days.

    Frontier was also contacting passengers on Vinson's flight from Dallas to Cleveland, even though she was asymptomatic at that time. They also want to talk to hundreds more passengers who were on five other flights that the plane she took Monday made after she returned to Dallas.

    The president of the airline, Barry Biffle, indicated Oct. 17 that Vinson may have been at a more advanced stage of the illness when flying than previously thought. The airline shared CDC findings with employees in an email. Crewmembers on the flights are at a very low risk of exposure, according to the CDC, yet as a precaution, the airline put the pilots and flight attendants on leave for 21 days--the amount of time experts believe it would take for someone exposed to Ebola to become sick.

    WHO MAY HAVE BEEN AFFECTED IN OHIO?

    Ohio health officials are still trying to determine how many people might have been exposed while Vinson was visiting the state before testing positive for Ebola.

    Officials are monitoring the health of 16 people in the state who had contact with Vinson — 12 in Summit County, which includes Akron, and four in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, according to The Associated Press. None of those people has shown any symptoms of the virus, health officials said.

    Dallas Hospital Responds to AllegationsDallas Hospital Responds to Allegations

    Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital officials monitor 75 workers who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan and respond to a nurses' union's allegations of workers being exposed to hazardous conditions and not being properly equipped or trained to care for Ebola.
    (Published Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014)

    Ohio health investigators are also tracking down people who visited Akron bridal shop Coming Attractions when Vinson was there with friends Saturday afternoon and set up a hotline for customers who may have been exposed. The shop's owners voluntarily shuttered it temporarily after Vinson was diagnosed. 

    HOW IS SHE BEING TREATED?

    Vinson was flown Wednesday, wearing a hazmat bubble suit, to Atlanta to be treated at Emory University Hospital, the same hospital where three Americans have been treated with Ebola and where two of them have recovered.

    She is being treated there in isolation in a biocontainment unit. Her family issued a statement Wednesday saying that "officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control are no longer able to detect virus in her body." She is continuing to receive treatment. 

    Emory had previously treated both Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, American aid workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia and who later recovered after successful treatment at Emory. A third unidentified American was also successfully treated there. 

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

    Texas authorities are taking additional precautions to prevent the virus from spreading, asking other health workers who treated Duncan not to travel with the public or go anywhere that people congregate. 

    Frieden added that an investigation had found that some workers at the Dallas hospital layered some of their protective gear and taped their gloves to their hands, two behaviors that can increase the risk of contracting the virus.

    Vinson may have been sick as early as Friday, Oct. 10, the day she flew to Ohio, the CDC said at a briefing on Oct. 17. The timing of when she fell ill is important, because patients with the virus are only contagious when they are sick.

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