Ebola case health worker quarantined on cruise ship

OCTOBER 17, 2014 — The cruise ship Carnival Magic was today reportedly returning to the U.S. with a low risk Ebola contact in voluntary isolation in her cabin.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital employee, who may have handled lab specimens from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, boarded the ship with a partner on October 12 in Galveston, before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its requirement for active monitoring.

"It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed" the victim's fluid samples, a State Department spokeswoman is reported as saying this morning. "The cruise line has actively supported CDC's efforts to speak with the individual, whom the cruise ship's medical doctor has monitored and confirmed was in good health. Following this examination, the hospital employee and traveling partner have voluntarily remained isolated in a cabin."

At the time the passenger boarded the ship, CDC protocol called for "self-monitoring," including daily temperature checks. She had been following those instructions since Oct. 6.

The Government of Belize yesterday declined a U.S. request to permit the passengerto be evacuated by air ambulance from its airport.

"The Government of Belize was contacted today by officers of the US Government and made aware of a cruise ship passenger considered of very low risk for Ebola," said a Government statement. "The passenger had voluntarily entered quarantine on board the ship and remains free of any fever or other symptoms of illness. The Ebola virus may only be spread by patients who are experiencing fever and symptoms of illness and so the US Government had emphasized the very low risk category in this case. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Government of Belize decided not to facilitate a US request for assistance in evacuating the passenger through the Phillip Goldson International Airport."

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