Ebola: Cruise Ship Passenger in Quarantine Over Scare

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The U.S. State Department today announced that an American on a cruise ship is currently being monitored for possible Ebola exposure. The passenger is an employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Eric Duncan died of Ebola last week. Duncan was the first person on U.S. soil to be diagnosed with Ebola.

The State Department identified the employee through a trace investigation currently being undertaken by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The employee, who has not been named, did not have direct contact with Duncan but may have had contact with "clinical specimens" collected from Duncan.

The employee boarded a Carnival cruise ship on October 12 in Galveston, Texas. At the time the CDC was requiring only self-monitoring for people suspected of having contact with Ebola patients. Shortly after the ship left the U.S., guidelines were updated to require active monitoring, including the suggestion that those exposed avoid travel for at least 21 days. According to the CDC's investigation it has been 19 days since the employee processed Duncan's fluid samples.

Since receiving word, the hospital employee and his or her traveling companion have voluntarily confined themselves to their cabin aboard the ship. They have been monitoring themselves, including daily temperature checks. Neither has reported any symptoms of Ebola. The cruise ship's doctor has confirmed that the pair are currently in good health.

According to a Carnival Cruise Lines statement released today the cruise ship, named Carnival Magic, was not cleared to dock in Cozumel, Mexico this morning. The ship has now set course for Galveston where it should arrive on Sunday morning. From the statement:

We greatly regret that this situation, which was completely beyond our control, precluded the ship from making its scheduled visit to Cozumel and the resulting disappointment it has caused to our guests.

Carnival is providing all Carnival Magic passengers with $200 in credit to spend aboard the ship and a 50 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise booking.

Since Duncan's death two Americans have been diagnosed with Ebola. Both were nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian who cared for Duncan.