116 being monitored in Ohio for Ebola symptoms

AKRON, Ohio (AP) – A total of 116 people are being monitored for Ebola symptoms in Ohio following the visit from a Dallas nurse who treated the first patient to die of the virus in the United States and later tested positive herself, health officials said Saturday.

None of those being monitored is sick, officials stressed.

Dr. Chris Braden, who is leading a CDC team in Ohio, said time is on their side as they wait for Ebola’s 21-day incubation period to pass. He said he was impressed with northeast Ohio’s level of preparedness but the threat that someone else infected with Ebola might show up in Ohio remains real.

“As long as this disease is burning hot in Africa, those sparks can fly,” he said.

Twenty-nine of those being monitored came in contact with Amber Vinson or visited the same Akron dress shop where her bridesmaids tried on dresses Oct. 11. Vinson did not try on any dresses during the shopping trip, Summit County Health Commissioner Gene Nixon said.

On Friday, officials said 16 people were being monitored. But the number rose as more people who visited the dress shop came forward and as passengers on flights with Vinson between Dallas and Cleveland were contacted. An additional 87 Ohioans were on those flights and are among the total being monitored.

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids. Someone who is infected does not become contagious until they show symptoms of the disease. Braden has said Vinson exhibited some symptoms while in Ohio.

She flew to Cleveland from Dallas on Oct. 10 and flew back on Oct. 13. She was diagnosed as having Ebola the next day.

Ohio epidemiologist Dr. Mary DiOrio said airline passengers are being classified for monitoring according to where they sat on the plane. Some individuals are being more actively watched, she said.

Gov. John Kasich said the state has put in place stricter protocols than what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend. He said Cuyahoga County has protocols in place for how to transport individuals who show Ebola-like symptoms while Summit County is “watching and learning.”

Kasich said 91 percent of Ohio hospitals have run drills or are engaged in training over handling possible cases.

He also called on the federal government to establish travel bans from African countries where the epidemic has raged.

“I think it makes sense to have that ban in place,” Kasich said.

Vinson’s stepfather is quarantined in his home in the Akron suburb of Tallmadge, where she stayed during her visit. He is the only person in the state under such a restriction.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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