Airline: CDC Warned ‘Possibility’ Ebola Nurse Had Symptoms on Plane

The airline that unknowingly transported an Ebola-sickened patient on a flight from Ohio to Texas Monday has placed six crew members on paid leave out of “an abundance of caution,” and said it was warned by health officials about “the possibility” that the passenger had symptoms during the flight.

Frontier Airlines CEO David Siegel said in a letter to employees it was told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday that nurse Amber Vinson “may have been symptomatic earlier than initially suspected; including the possibility of possessing symptoms while onboard the flight.” The airline says no symptoms were detected by the crew.

Vinson, a Texas nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan and later tested positive for the deadly disease, flew on a Cleveland-to-Dallas flight on Monday while she had a mild fever. Vinson is now being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Siegel said four flight attendants and two pilots involved in that flight were put on 21-day paid leave, that the jet was taken out of service as soon as the airline learned Wednesday a sick passenger may have been aboard, and that the jet will be cleaned and the seat covers and carpets near Vinson’s seat would be removed.

“We take today’s events seriously as your safety and that of our customers is always at the forefront of everything we do,” Siegel said in the letter. “This was over and above CDC guidance that stated that our flight crews were safe to fly.”

The jet Vinson flew on continued to transport passengers on Tuesday, and made five flights to airports in Cleveland, Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta before the airline was notified of the sick passenger on Wednesday, according to the letter.

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.