The doctor who contracted Ebola in West Africa before returning to New York City has been declared free of the virus, hospital officials announced Monday. This news means that 41 days after the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, there are no known cases of the virus in the country
The doctor from New York, Craig Spencer, who was stricken with the Ebola virus disease and was found to be infection free, was released from the hospital Tuesday. Spencer, who treated Ebola victims in Guinea and contracted Ebola himself, was kept in quarantine for several weeks at Bellevue Hospital Center and held in quarantined isolation since being diagnosed with the Ebola virus Oct. 23. Spencer was the last Ebola patient to be treated and released in the United States. Two other healthcare workers who recently returned from Sierra Leone are currently in quarantine, following guidelines recommended by the Department of State Health Services and Centers for Disease Control.
Spencer, 33, looked thin but jubilant as he high-fived the Bellevue nurses who treated him and received a hug from Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York; Chirlane McCray, the mayor’s wife; and other officials who attended the news conference prior to his release. The New York Presbyterian doctor stated that his case was only a small part of the more than 13,000 cases reported in West Africa, the epicenter of the epidemic. Spencer had worked in Africa on behalf of Doctors Without Borders.
Dr. Spencer then asked the everyone to turn their efforts and attention towards West Africa and to join him to ensure that aid workers and medical volunteers returning home do not need to deal with threats and stigma. Morgan Dixon, his fiancée, who lives in a Harlem apartment with Spencer, was also released from quarantine, which was mandated by the city.A small number of states in the U.S. have instituted mandatory quarantines for healthcare personnel coming back from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, where over 4,900 people have succumbed to the virus already this year. The U.S. government has cautioned that volunteers may be discouraged by quarantines.
De Blasio commented that it was a very good day not only because Spencer, the New York doctor sickened by the Ebola virus disease, was now cured and released, but New York was also free of Ebola. Spencer also received an early morning phone call from President Barack Obama, who was in China. Mr. Obama praised him for his selfless compassion in treating the virus in West Africa and stated that it was his belief that the best protection against Ebola for the United States was to fight the virus at its starting point
People were concerned when it was reported that the emergency room physician, 33, had used the subway system, gone to a bowling alley and eaten at a restaurant days prior to developing symptoms. Health Department officials stated that Spencer was determined to be virus-free only after thorough examinations.
Just as the New York doctor sickened by Ebola and eventually released, many people across the United States are currently being monitored for Ebola symptoms. Thomas Duncan, a Liberian national, is the only person to die from the disease in the U.S. The death toll from Ebola is close to 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent figures. The UN estimates that deaths in Sierra Leone , Guinea and Liberia have increased to 4,950 deaths out of 13,421 total cases. Currently there is no cure or vaccination, though several patients have been effectively treated with Z-Mapp, an experimental drug.
By Gerald Sowell