Ebola Nurse’s Engagement Ring Incinerated by Overzealous Cleanup Crew; Bleach Bath Would Have Done the Trick

The cleanup crew tasked with removing any trace of the Ebola virus from the home of infected nurse Amber Vinson might have been a bit overzealous when they incinerated many of her possessions, including her beautiful new engagement ring.

Showcasing a round center diamond in a cushion-shaped halo setting and accented by a double micro pavé diamond band, the ring was very similar in design to one shown below.

Infectious disease expert William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine told ABC News that burning the Ebola patient's engagement ring was unnecessary and "totally overboard." Schaffner said the engagement ring could have been easily disinfected with bleach or a similar cleaning product.

"It sends the wrong public health message," he told ABC News, "as though the engagement ring could be vehicle for the Ebola virus."

Vinson was released recently from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, where she was treated for the virus she contracted while tending the first U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, in Texas. She told CNN’s Don Lemon that she was shocked to learn many of her possessions were burned soon after she started treatment on October 14. The cleanup crew had been hired by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is apparently not liable for replacing the destroyed jewelry.

"Your house was sterilized? They burned a lot of your things? They incinerated your engagement ring?" Lemon asked the newly engaged 29-year-old on CNN Tonight.

"Yes. I was crushed,” she said. “It's a thing, but it has sentimental value to me."

Also burned was a binder that included all of Vinson’s wedding plans. This precaution, too, may have been totally overboard because the Ebola virus is spread through close contact and bodily fluids, including blood, sweat and urine — not by touching paper.

The upbeat Texas nurse remained positive about her future even though many of her possessions are gone.

"We've got to rebuild," she told CNN.

If you’re wondering if it’s even possible to burn an engagement ring, the answer is, “Yes.” Commercial incinerators burn at a temperature of 1,400 to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Gold will melt at 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit and diamonds can burn or oxidize at 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Merck index, a definitive reference guide used by scientists. Diamonds do have a melting point of 6,432 degrees Fahrenheit, but attaining that temperature is only possible in a vacuum.

Images: CNN.com screen captures; UneekJewelry.com; Facebook/HelpAmberVinson

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