One of the first people to have contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has been cleared and others are expected to be out of quarantine this weekend.
The man, who has not been identified, has not shown any symptoms for the past 21 days after visiting with Duncan in the Ivy Apartments, where Duncan was staying when he became ill in late September.
“This was the first contact they could trace,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told the Dallas Morning News.
Others who had contact with Duncan, including Louise Troh, the woman Duncan had traveled from Liberia to Dallas to marry, is doing well and is expected to finish her 21-day quarantine on Monday.
Meanwhile, Nina Pham, one of the nurses who contracted the lethal virus while treating Duncan at Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, is stable in fair condition and “doing quite well” after being transferred from Dallas to a special biocontainment unit in Maryland, doctors at the National Institutes of Health hospital said Friday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Pham’s “fair” condition implies that she still has some symptoms of the virus. But he said she was “resting comfortably” and “she will get out when she is well and clear of the virus.”
Fauci said that “we fully intend to have this patient walk out of this hospital.”
Pham, 26, who grew up in Fort Worth and is a graduate of TCU’s nursing program, was diagnosed with the deadly virus this past weekend after she self-reported a low grade fever. Another nurse who cared for Duncan, Amber Joy Vinson, 29, of Dallas, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, another biocontainment unit.
Duncan, 42, who arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20, died Oct. 8.
Pham arrived in Maryland shortly before midnight Thursday. Doctors said her mother and sister also were staying in the area.
If Troh remains symptom-free and is released from quarantine Monday, she will begin the arduous task of rebooting her life, her pastor, George Mason, said.
At least 46 other people who had contact with Duncan are also expected to be cleared over the weekend and Monday.
Troh, who had a 19-year-old son with Duncan, and three family members have been kept in quarantine since a week before Duncan’s death.
“She’s anxious. She’s gotten to the point where she’s really gotten some cabin fever,” said Mason, the pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church. Mason said he saw Troh and her family members Friday morning, and they were all healthy and showed no signs of Ebola.
But they were feeling the stress of nearly three weeks of de facto imprisonment.
“Ask yourself [what it would be like] if you lost every possession. You cannot touch another human being. You can’t talk to family,” Mason said. “She has no money, no ability to grieve with another human, beyond these folks in her care and not her peers.”
Troh hasn’t yet determined where she will attempt to live in the days after she is released from quarantine, or what to do with her life long-term, the pastor said.
As of Friday evening, a total of 143 people were being monitored for contact or possible contact with Ebola, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those figures don’t include the three known cases of Ebola — Duncan, Pham and Vinson. They do include 11 known contacts and 132 possible contacts, the CDC reported.
Quarantined on cruise ship
More possible exposures were confirmed Friday, from a Caribbean cruise ship to Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Obama administration officials said a Dallas healthcare worker who handled a lab specimen from Duncan is self-quarantined on a Caribbean cruise ship and is being monitored for infection.
The woman had shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 19 days, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The cruise ship, the Carnival Magic, had stopped in Belize but officials there would not allow the passenger to leave the vessel. In a statement, the Belize government said it had refused a U.S. government request to fly the woman home through the Belize City airport.
U.S. officials were seeking ways to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise on Sunday.
Carnival Cruise Lines said in a statement that the woman, a lab supervisor, remained in isolation “and is not deemed to be a risk to any guests or crew.”
Dallas Area Rapid Transit disclosed that two employees “have been connected with persons who have been exposed or an carrying the Ebola virus.”
One of the employees is a bus driver who was on the flight Vinson took Monday from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
“The operator learned of his possible exposure from media accounts and notified us after contacting the Centers for Disease Control. However, this was after he had completed his shift Wednesday morning,” DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said. “Although the operator was not displaying symptoms at the time, and based on CDC information would not be able to transmit the virus, we will attempt to contact customers who were on the bus during his shift. The bus he was operating was immediately removed from service for cleaning.”
The second DART employee, also a man, didn’t have contact with the agency’s customers, Morgan said.
DART declined to identify either man.
The medical waste from Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas will be shipped to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in the coming days to be destroyed, officials said Friday.
UTMB President David Callender said at a news conference that the campus has the only licensed facility in Texas capable of receiving and incinerating the biohazardous material coming from the Dallas hospital.
He says waste suspected of being contaminated by Ebola will be trucked from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and placed in a 1,500-degree Fahrenheit incinerator. Any residue not turned to ash can then be placed in an 1,800-degree incinerator.