A lab worker from the Dallas hospital where Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan died and two other nurses have fallen ill is in isolation onboard a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean after it was discovered that the woman boarded the vessel in Texas and left the country under a CDC required self-monitoring period.
According to a statement from the U.S. State Department, it was discovered that an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who may have handled clinical specimens collected from Duncan had departed the United States via a commercial cruise ship on October 12 from Galveston, Texas, within a 21 day self-monitoring period required by the CDC.
Carnival Cruise Lines says that on October 15 they were made aware of the guest sailing on board the Carnival Magic. At no point has the passenger shown any symptoms or signs of infection, but the guest and her traveling partner have been placed in voluntary isolation on board the ship. The passenger is deemed by the CDC to be very low risk, but out of an “extreme abundance of caution” the passenger remains isolated and the cruise line working with the CDC to determine the best course of action, according to a statement from Carnival.
The State Department notes that the individual was out of the country before being notified of CDC’s updated requirements for active monitoring. At the time the hospital employee left the country, CDC was requiring only self-monitoring.
“The employee has been self-monitoring, including daily temperature checks, since October 6, and has not had a fever or demonstrated any symptoms of illness,” the State Department statement said. “It has been 19 days since the passenger may have processed the since deceased patient’s fluid samples.”
Duncan died October 8 from the Ebola Virus Disease, becoming the first person to die from the disease in the United States. At least two other Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital workers have since been diagnosed with the disease, which has an incubation period of 21 days. The hospital has been criticized over its handling of the diseased patient.
The Carnival Magic is homeported in Galveston, Texas and can carry 3,690 passengers and 1,367 crew.