U.S. Health Worker Isolated on Ship for Ebola Monitoring

A health worker from the Dallas hospital that diagnosed the first U.S. case of Ebola has voluntarily entered isolation on a cruise ship, according to the U.S. Department of State.

While the worker didn’t have direct contact with the deceased Ebola patient and is in good health, the person may have had contact with clinical specimens collected from the patient, according to a Department of State statement.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas. Since then, two nurses who helped care for him have tested positive for the virus -- one after flying from Cleveland to Dallas on a Frontier Airlines jet.

The employee on the cruise ship has been self-monitoring, including conducting daily temperature checks, since Oct. 6, and has not had a fever or demonstrated any symptoms of illness. The individual was out of the country before being notified of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated requirements for active monitoring.

At the time the hospital employee left the country on Oct. 12 from Galveston, Texas, CDC was requiring only self-monitoring, the statement said. It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed the deceased patient’s fluid samples, the statement said. Workers at Texas Health Presbyterian who cared for Duncan have been asked to self-monitor their conditions for 21 days from their last possible exposure.

The cruise ship’s medical doctor has monitored and confirmed the worker was in good health. The Department of State is working with the cruise line to safely bring the hospital employee and a traveling partner back to the U.S. “out of an abundance of caution.”

The virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva and urine of an infected person.

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