CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
The Dallas nurse who tested positive for Ebola flew through Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and spent time in Akron days before being diagnosed with the disease, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Amber Vinson, 29, tested positive on Tuesday night after caring for Ebola patient Thomas Duncan at a Dallas Hospital. She is the second Dallas-area nurse to be diagnosed with the disease.
After spending Oct. 10 to 13 visiting family members in Akron, Vinson flew from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday. Reports indicate she did not have symptoms of Ebola during her trip and became ill and was admitted to the hospital one day after returning to Dallas.
Frontier says the plane Vinson traveled on "received a thorough cleaning per our normal procedures" after landing in Dallas on Monday.
The CDC said on Thursday they are not ruling out the possibility that Vinson's illness started earlier and therefore are investigating passengers on her initial flight from Dallas to Cleveland. Ebola is not contagious until a person begins showing symptoms of the virus, officials say.
While Vinson and the plane she traveled on have no apparent connection to the Tri-State, local health officials are stepping up preparations if there were to be an Ebola case.
Most major hospitals in Cincinnati have an Ebola management plan, according to Dr. Stephen Blatt with Tri-Health. The University of Cincinnati has isolation units that are reportedly equipped for an Ebola patient. Looking like a standard hospital room, officials say they contain special provisions to handle the spread of infectious diseases.
"We will be very strict with our protocols as far as wearing the gowns, wearing the protective equipment, suits, the masks, everything,” said an official from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The CDC has provided hospitals nationwide with guidelines for treating patients with signs and symptoms of Ebola.
"We've been trained in isolation protocol. We've also been trained to test patients who are having flu-like symptoms or symptoms that they are concerned that might be Ebola,” said Meagan Hawkins, a nurse practitioner at Beechmont Urgent Care.
Local fire and EMT officials are also prepared for Ebola hitting home, with new standards for 911 dispatchers.
Anyone who calls 911 will now have to answer whether they have any kind of fever and if they have recently traveled to Africa, according to Cincinnati Fire Chief Richard Braun.
Ebola can be transmitted through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids from infected humans and animals.
Ebola symptoms include headaches, muscle pain and weakness, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains along with unexplained bleeding or bruising.
Dr. Stephen Blatt says the risk to general population is “minuscule to none” for those who have not traveled to Africa or come in contact with a person infected with Ebola.
“The risk to health care workers who are providing care for Ebola patients who maybe came from Africa or who have taken care of Ebola patients is going to be somewhat significant until we're certain until the protective equipment is correct,” said Dr. Blatt.
CDC staff members are being sent to Ohio to assist health officials in identifying anyone who may have had contact with Vinson during her three-day visit.
One person in Akron has been voluntarily quarantined after having household contact with Vinson, according to the Associated Press. The quarantined person has not left home since Tuesday and health officials are monitoring their condition, the Summit County Medical Director said on Wednesday.
A 24-hour hotline is in place to answer Ohioans' questions about Ebola, the Department of Health announced on Wednesday. That number is 1-866-800-1404.