Mother of Nurse Who Contracted Ebola Details Weakened Daughter's Struggle

"She is doing OK, just trying to get stronger," Debra Berry said.

ByABC News
October 21, 2014, 8:31 AM

— -- The mother of a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating a patient at a Texas hospital says her daughter is focused on recovery, but remains weak since being diagnosed with the deadly virus last week.

"She is doing OK, just trying to get stronger," Debra Berry said of her daughter, Amber Vinson, to ABC News. "We talk to her when she's not trying to sleep or avoid phone calls."

Vinson, 29, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. She was diagnosed with Ebola Oct. 15, self-reporting to the hospital after registering a fever. Berry says it has been difficult for her to comprehend her daughter's situation.

"I can't put it into words really, how it feels to have the knowledge that she's sick and I can't get to her," she said.

Amber Vinson, a nurse seen here in an undated family photo, contracted Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Nina Pham and Vinson were diagnosed with Ebola after providing care to Thomas Eric Duncan – a Liberian national who later died – at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Authorities still aren't sure how the breach occurred. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for Ebola treatment Monday, promoting head-to-toe protection.

Berry wishes the stricter guidelines were established sooner.

"It is concerning. I guess more than anything, I'm so relieved that it's in place now," Berry said. "It should help ensure that no one has to endure what Amber and what Ms. Pham have had to go through these weeks, and their families."

An ambulance carrying Amber Joy Vinson arrives at Emory University Hospital on Oct. 15, 2014, in Atlanta.

Berry remains under a self-quarantine after her daughter's diagnosis and has been advised not to travel by health officials. But she says she isn't worried about contracting Ebola because her daughter was especially careful. Vinson contacted health officials after Pham was diagnosed with Ebola, asking whether precautionary arrangements could be made for her return to Dallas, her family said. She had been in Ohio planning for her wedding.

After landing in Dallas, Vinson reported a temperature of 100.3 degrees and admitted herself to the hospital.

"She wasn't sick [at the time], and knowing she would never expose me or anyone else to something that would be harmful; 'I'm just doing what I'm being told to do,'" Berry said.

Vinson spoke to a team of Texas health officials who relayed her symptoms to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, her uncle Lawrence Vinson told ABC News last week.

"They called Amber back and told her, 'The CDC is OK with it. You can travel,'" Lawrence Vinson said.

Vinson said his niece would not have traveled if she had been worried about her condition.

"Amber is one of the most conscientious individuals I know, and she certainly would not have done anything to put the other passengers on that plane or her family at risk," he said. "Amber flew home and went home. If she felt ill, she would have gone straight to the hospital."

With the family's approval, a friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help defray the costs associated with replacing Vinson's belongings that were destroyed to avoid potential contamination and expenses incurred by family members during her care and hospitalization at Emory, the family said.

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