- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TALLMADGE, Ohio (AP) - A Texas nurse’s Ebola diagnosis after a visit to Ohio led to public health alerts, precautions and worries Wednesday as officials tried to determine who had close contact with her and keep the illness from spreading.

Officials in Summit County, where the woman visited family over the weekend, said one individual in Ohio who had household contact with 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson self-quarantined at home Tuesday after Vinson’s family was notified that she developed Ebola symptoms. Officials didn’t identify the isolated person.

Vinson had treated the Liberian man who died of the disease in a Dallas hospital. Medical records provided to The Associated Press by Thomas Eric Duncan’s family show that Vinson was actively engaged in caring for Duncan and that she inserted catheters, drew blood and dealt with Duncan’s body fluids.

Passengers who were on Monday’s Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas with Vinson have been asked to call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials say Vinson didn’t exhibit Ebola symptoms while in Ohio. People infected with Ebola aren’t contagious until they get symptoms.

Police said she stayed at the home of her mother and stepfather in Tallmadge, northeast of Akron. Police on Wednesday had the home cordoned off with yellow tape, and they were blocking the media from accessing the cul-de-sac on which it sits.

Elsewhere in Ohio, local and state officials sought to ward off any public panic by emphasizing that the state has no cases of Ebola and many steps are being taken to limit further infection.

The Cleveland Clinic and The MetroHealth System said Wednesday that some of their nurses and other employees were on the same flight from Dallas that the nurse with Ebola took to Ohio. The employees - including five nurses from the Cleveland Clinic - are on paid leave as a precaution while their health is monitored.

The hospitals said they believe the employees’ risk of exposure was low because available information indicates the Texas nurse didn’t have symptoms during the Friday flight to Cleveland. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluid, not through the air.

Officials said Cleveland Hopkins International Airport disinfected key areas of its facility.

The plane on which Vinson flew back to Dallas was decontaminated twice and was to be used for a flight Wednesday that was later canceled. The plane departed Wednesday evening for Denver carrying no passengers, said Jacqueline Mayo, Cleveland airports spokeswoman.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson urged people to be reasonable and rely not on rumors but on facts.

“Is there a need for people to have precaution? Yes, there is,” Jackson said.

The Cleveland airport is implementing its infectious disease protocol, and the city said its emergency medical responders added Ebola-specific questions to better screen incoming calls for medical help.

Kent State University, Vinson’s alma mater, was abuzz about its links to the Ebola case after the school announced that three employees related to Vinson have been asked to remain off campus for three weeks. Vinson didn’t visit campus during her recent trip, the school said. It isn’t identifying the related employees.

The announcement about the employees’ connection left freshman Katherine Fothergill concerned.

“I’m trying to stay calm,” said Fothergill, 18.

Her boyfriend, 18-year-old student Jared Shoup, was less worried.

“I feel like it’s not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be,” he said.

Ohio and Summit County health officials are working with the CDC to identify and alert people who may have been in close contact with the woman and implement quarantines if necessary, said Ohio’s state epidemiologist, Dr. Mary DiOrio. She said health departments throughout Ohio will be kept apprised of the situation as the investigation continues.

The state said the CDC agreed to send a liaison to Ohio to help answer questions, along with at least one worker skilled in identifying who may have had contact with an infected person.

Gov. John Kasich requested that help Wednesday in a telephone call with CDC Director Tom Frieden, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said. He said Kasich also spoke by phone with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell.

___

Franko contributed to this story from Columbus, Ohio; Associated Press writers Jennifer Smola and Ann Sanner in Columbus, Ohio, and John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, and AP News Researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York also contributed to this report.

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