Nina Pham, Ebola-stricken nurse, being flown to Washington

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Nina Pham, Ebola-stricken nurse, being flown to Washington
Newly Ebola-free nurse Nina Pham & her (also Ebola-free) dog Mr Bentley were reunited today http://t.co/MvGtkNaDEO http://t.co/QsPqXr2wQu
Nina Pham and her 1-year-old King Charles Spaniel had a heart-wrenching, tail-wagging reunion http://t.co/52Su7f4kHF http://t.co/M1K6VU7zhm
This Oct. 20, 2014 photo provided via Twitter by the City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services shows Bentley, the King Charles Spaniel while having a sample collected for Ebola testing, in Dallas. The first Ebola test for Bentley, who was quarantined after his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola, has come back negative. The city of Dallas said that the one-year-old will be tested again before his 21-day quarantine period ends Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services)
This Oct. 13, 2014, photo released via Twitter by the City of Dallas Public Information Managing Director Sana Syed shows Bentley in Dallas, the one-year-old King Charles Spaniel belonging to Nina Pham, the nurse who contracted Ebola. Bentley has been taken from Pham's Dallas apartment and will be cared for at an undisclosed location. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sana Syed/PIO, City of Dallas)
This Oct. 22, 2014, photo provided via Twitter by the City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services shows Bentley, the King Charles Spaniel who was quarantined after his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola, in Dallas. The first Ebola test for Bentley has come back negative. The city of Dallas said that the one-year-old will be tested again before his 21-day quarantine period ends Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services)
Nina Pham, 26, who became the first person to contract the disease within the United States. Federal officials declared her free of the deadly virus on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.
President Barack Obama hugs Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in Washington. Pham, the first nurse diagnosed with Ebola after treating an infected man at a Dallas hospital is free of the virus. The 26-year-old Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center. She had been flown there from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Pham's mother Diana, center, and sister Cathy watch. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
This 2010 photo provided by tcu360.com, the yearbook of Texas Christian University, shows Nina Pham, 26, who became the first person to contract the disease within the United States. Records show that Pham and other health care workers wore protective gear, including gowns, gloves, masks and face shields and sometimes full-body suits when caring for Thomas Eric Duncan. (AP Photo/Courtesy of tcu360.com)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama gives a hug to Dallas nurse Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and was first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama hugs Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Pham, the first nurse diagnosed with Ebola after treating an infected man at a Dallas hospital is free of the virus. The 26-year-old Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center. She had been flown there from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Pham's mother Diana, center, and sister Cathy Pham watch. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama meets with Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Pham, the first nurse diagnosed with Ebola after treating an infected man at a Dallas hospital is free of the virus. The 26-year-old Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center. She had been flown there from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: (L-R) U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with Dallas nurse Nina Pham as Pham's mother Diana and sister Cathy look on in the Oval Office of the White House October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and was first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Dallas nurse Nina Pham (C) as Pham's mother Diana (2R) and sister Cathy (R) smile in the Oval Office of the White House October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and was first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Dallas nurse Nina Pham (C) flanked by mother Diana (2R) and sister Cathy (R) and medical staff in the Oval Office of the White House October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and was first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - OCTOBER 24: Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci (2nd L) hugs Nina Pham (5th L), the nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, as Pham's mother Diana (R) and sister Cathy (4th L), and Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins (L) look on at the end of a news briefing at National Institutes of Health October 24, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland. Pham, who first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - OCTOBER 24: Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci (2nd L) hugs Nina Pham (3rd L), the nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, as Pham's mother Diana (6th L) and sister Cathy (4th L), and Director of the National Institutes of Health Francis Collins (L) look on at the end of a news briefing at National Institutes of Health October 24, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland. Pham, who first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - OCTOBER 24: Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci (L) comes out of the building with Nina Pham (2nd L), the nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, for a news briefing at National Institutes of Health October 24, 2014 in Bethesda, Maryland. Pham, who first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Patient Nina Pham smiles as she speaks outside of National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Pham, the first nurse diagnosed with Ebola after treating an infected man at a Dallas hospital is free of the virus. The 26-year-old Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center. She had been flown there from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
This Oct. 22, 2014, photo provided via Twitter by the City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services shows Bentley, the King Charles Spaniel who was quarantined after his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola, in Dallas. The first Ebola test for Bentley has come back negative. The city of Dallas said that the one-year-old will be tested again before his 21-day quarantine period ends Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services)
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas staff line the drive that exits the emergency room as they wait for an ambulance carrying Nina Pham to depart, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Dallas. Pham, a nurse at the hospital was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan who died of the same virus. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas staff line the drive that exits the emergency room as they wait for an ambulance carrying Nina Pham to depart, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Dallas. Pham, a nurse at the hospital was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan who died of the same virus. Amber Vinson, another nurse diagnosed, was taken to a similar location in Atlanta yesterday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Medical staff in protective gear escort Nina Pham, exiting the ambulance, to a nearby aircraft at Love Field, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Dallas. Pham, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan who died of the same virus. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Medical staff in protective gear escort Nina Pham, exiting the ambulance in yellow, to a nearby aircraft at Love Field, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Dallas. Pham, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan who died of the same virus. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
An official steps off of a plane before nurse Nina Pham exits at Frederick Municipal Airport, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Frederick, Md. Pham, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan before he died of the same virus. She will be transported to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A plane with nurse Nina Pham aboard sits on a tarmac at Frederick Municipal Airport, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Frederick, Md. Pham, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan before he died of the same virus. She will be transported to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A plane with nurse Nina Pham aboard taxis on a tarmac after arriving at Frederick Municipal Airport, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in Frederick, Md. Pham, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, was diagnosed with the Ebola virus after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan before he died of the same virus. She will be transported to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
This Oct. 20, 2014 photo provided via Twitter by the City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services shows Bentley, the King Charles Spaniel while having a sample collected for Ebola testing, in Dallas. The first Ebola test for Bentley, who was quarantined after his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola, has come back negative. The city of Dallas said that the one-year-old will be tested again before his 21-day quarantine period ends Nov. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/City of Dallas and Dallas Animal Services)
This Oct. 13, 2014, photo released via Twitter by the City of Dallas Public Information Managing Director Sana Syed shows Bentley in Dallas, the one-year-old King Charles Spaniel belonging to Nina Pham, the nurse who contracted Ebola. Bentley has been taken from Pham's Dallas apartment and will be cared for at an undisclosed location. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sana Syed/PIO, City of Dallas)
Father Jim Khoi prays the rosary at the Our Lady of Fatima Church where the family of nurse Nina Pham attend, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. Pham, 26, became the first person to contract Ebola within the United States. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
FILE - In a Sept. 17, 2014 file photo, Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, former Medical Director of Samaritan's Purse Ebola Care Center in Monrovia, Liberia, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations during a hearing on Ebola on Capitol Hill in Washington. Brantly went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 to donate the plasma to nurse Nina Pham who is being treated for Ebola. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, checks a teleconference hookup before a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, as top U.S. health officials appeared before a House panel looks for answers about the Ebola outbreak. Fauci announced to lawmakers that the first nurse stricken in the U.S., Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola after treating a Liberian man in Dallas, was being flown to the National Institutes of Health outside Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal health officials said Thursday they still don't know how two Dallas nurses caught Ebola from a patient, as criticism increased from lawmakers who questioned whether the nation is prepared to stop the deadly virus from spreading in the U.S.

The revelation that one of the hospital nurses was cleared to fly on a commercial airline the day before she was diagnosed raised new alarms about the American response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The death toll is expected to climb above 4,500 in Africa, all but a few within Liberia, Sierra Leone and New Guinea, the World Health Organization said.

The first nurse stricken in the U.S., Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola after treating a Liberian man in Dallas, was being flown to the National Institutes of Health outside Washington on Thursday, while a second nurse has already been transferred to a biohazard infectious disease center at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

The two nurses, Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, had been involved in providing care to Thomas Duncan, who died of Ebola last week.

In Washington, President Barack Obama directed his administration to respond in a "much more aggressive way" to the threat and, for the second day in a row, canceled his out-of-town trips to stay in Washington and monitor the Ebola response.

In a hearing on Capitol Hill, the chairman of a House committee cited "demonstrated failures" in the government's response. Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania said the "trust and credibility of the administration and government are waning as the American public loses confidence each day." Seated before him were leaders of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, testified that despite the latest incidents, "we remain confident that our public health and health care systems can prevent an Ebola outbreak here."

In Europe, Spain's government is wrestling with similar questions. The condition of a nursing assistant infected with Ebola at a Madrid hospital appeared to be improving, but a person who came in contact with her before she was hospitalized developed a fever and was being tested Thursday.

That second person is not a health care worker, a Spanish Health Ministry spokesman said.

To this point, only hospital workers - the Madrid nursing assistant and the two nurses in Dallas - had been known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa during the outbreak that began in March.

Amid increasing global concern, France said that on Saturday it will begin screening passengers who arrive at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport on the once-daily flight from Guinea's capital.

In the U.S., Customs and health officials at airports in Chicago, Atlanta, suburban Washington and Newark, New Jersey, were to begin taking the temperatures of passengers from the three hardest-hit West African countries Thursday. The screenings, using no-touch thermometers, started Saturday at New York's Kennedy International Airport.

With hospitals and airports on heightened alert, Frieden said the CDC is receiving hundreds of requests for help in ruling out Ebola in travelers. So far 12 cases merited testing, he said.

Frieden said investigators are trying to figure out how the nurses caught the virus from that Liberian patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. In the meantime, he said, their cases show a need to strengthen the infection-control procedures that "allowed for exposure to the virus."

Duncan's death and the sick health care workers in the U.S. and Spain "intensify our concern about the global health threat," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

He said two Ebola vaccine candidates were undergoing a first phase of human clinical testing this fall. But he cautioned that scientists were still in the early stages of seeking new treatments or a vaccine.

A nurse at the Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian, on Thursday described a "chaotic scene" when the hospital faced Duncan, its first Ebola patient.

Briana Aguirre, who has helped treat the first nurse who was infected, told NBC's "Today" show she felt exposed in the protective gear the hospital provided.

"In the second week of an Ebola crisis at my hospital, the only gear they were offering us at that time, and up until that time, is gear that is allowing our necks to be uncovered?" Aguirre said, adding that she piled on gloves and booties in triplicate and wore a plastic suit up to her neck.

The hospital said it used the protective gear recommended by the CDC and updated the equipment as CDC guidelines changed. Because nurses complained that their necks were exposed, the hospital ordered hoods for them, according to a statement from Texas Health Presbyterian.

Frieden said nurse Amber Joy Vinson never should have been allowed to fly on a commercial jetliner because she had been exposed to the virus while caring for the first Ebola patient.

Vinson has been monitored more closely ever since Pham, the first nurse involved in Duncan's care, was diagnosed with Ebola.

Still, a CDC official cleared Vinson to board the Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to the Dallas area. Her reported temperature - 99.5 degrees - was below the threshold set by the agency and she had no symptoms, according to agency spokesman David Daigle.

Ebola patients are not considered contagious until they have symptoms.

Vinson was diagnosed with Ebola a day after the flight, news that sent airline stocks falling amid fears it could dissuade people from flying. Losses between 5 percent and 8 percent were recorded before shares recovered.

Frontier has taken the aircraft out of service. The plane was flown Wednesday without passengers from Cleveland to Denver, where the airline said it will undergo a fourth cleaning, including replacement of seat covers, carpeting and air filters.

Even as Obama sought to calm new fears about Ebola in the U.S., he cautioned against letting them overshadow the far more urgent crisis unfolding in West Africa. Underscoring his emphasis on international action, Obama called European leaders Wednesday to discuss better coordination in the fight against Ebola in West Africa and to issue a call for more money and personnel "to bend the curve of the epidemic."

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