COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Texas nurse indicated she “felt funny” and spent extra time resting during a visit to Ohio in the days before she was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said Thursday.
Dr. Chris Braden, leading a CDC team in Ohio, said information from the woman and people she visited suggests she didn’t have typical symptoms of Ebola when she flew to Cleveland on Oct. 10 and visited family in Akron last weekend. But he reiterated that health officials can’t rule out the possibility that her illness began last Saturday, or possibly earlier.
“There’s some indications that she wasn’t feeling well when she was here,” but those signs weren’t pronounced, Braden said.
Officials are monitoring the health of 16 people in northeast Ohio who had contact with the nurse, 29-year-old Amber Vinson, and none has been ill. They were urged to stay home and have been cooperative, health officials said.
Twelve are in Summit County, and four are in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland.
Vinson had treated the Liberian man in Dallas who died of the disease, which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids. The timing of her symptoms is important because people infected with Ebola aren’t considered contagious until they have symptoms.
Officials expanded their search for people who may have had contact with her to include passengers on her flight to Cleveland and shoppers at an Akron bridal store she visited Saturday, in addition to passengers from her Monday flight back to Dallas. Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines said it is telling passengers on seven flights — the two that carried Vinson, as well as five using the same plane — to contact the CDC.
Ohio officials also are increasing the state’s supply of personal protective equipment for health care providers in case that gear is needed for a suspected or confirmed Ebola case.
New shipments arrive daily, and the Department of Health is requesting approval from a legislative panel to spend $300,000 in existing funding for more equipment. It also wants permission for up to $500,000 to dispose of contaminated linens and other items if an Ebola case occurs.
The Controlling Board will consider the request Monday.
The health department said its existing equipment includes more than 105,000 gloves, 100,000 face masks, 29,000 respirators and 7,000 gowns. Hospitals have their own supplies, too.
The state has asked hospitals to conduct drills to practice interacting with a potential Ebola patient.
Health agencies continue to stress that the risk of contracting Ebola in Ohio is slim and that all sorts of precautionary measures are being taken. Some schools, hospitals and businesses have temporarily closed, done extra cleaning or asked employees to stay home because of concerns about potential contact with Vinson or someone else who had contact.
Officials said Vinson limited her movements in Ohio but did meet some friends and visit Coming Attractions Bridal & Formal in Akron. Other people who were at the store Saturday afternoon have been asked to call Summit County Public Health.
The store has been closed.
Owner Anna Younker said she helped Vinson and her friends choose bridesmaid dresses and took measurements, WEWS-TV reported.
Vinson showed no signs of being sick during her time there, Younker said. She didn’t indicate whose wedding the group was picking dresses for.
Summit County Health Commissioner Gene Nixon said five of the people who were being monitored are bridesmaids who were at the bridal shop with Vinson, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. He said others included a bridesmaid’s husband and three children of bridesmaids who didn’t have direct contact with Vinson.
Police said Vinson stayed at the home of her mother and stepfather in Tallmadge, northeast of Akron. The home has been cordoned off with yellow tape.
Vinson has been transferred from a Dallas hospital to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Her uncle and family spokesman, Lawrence Vinson, said in a statement Thursday night that she was stable.
“She followed all of the protocols necessary when treating a patient in Dallas, and right now, she’s trusting in her doctors and nurses as she is now the patient,” he said.
His statement was released by Vinson’s alma mater, Kent State University, where three of her relatives work. The school said those employees, who have been asked to remain off campus for three weeks, work in administrative areas and have little contact with students.
Associated Press writer Ann Sanner contributed to this report.
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