New York doctor declared free of Ebola leaves hospital today

Posted Nov 11, 2014 by Stephen Morgan
A US doctor with Ebola has been cured two and a half weeks after being admitted to hospital in New York. Health authorities have announced he will be going home today.
A doctor who contracted Ebola in West Africa before returning to New York City has been cured of the deadly disease. Officials said yesterday that Dr. Craig Spencer was now confirmed to be free of the virus and left the hospital today.
A spokeswoman for the hospital, Ana Marengo made a public statement informing the press that “after a rigorous course of treatment and testing,” Dr. Spencer posed “no public health risk.”
Live Science reports that he and the authorities held a press conference later in the day at which Dr Spencer said,
"Today I'm healthy, and no longer infectious" and he thanked the medical team who treated him for the "tremendous care and support" he received.
"I received an exceptional level of medical treatment, support and encouragement, from the whole medical and administrative team,"
Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that, "New York City's first and only Ebola case was successfully treated. Dr. Spencer is Ebola free, and New York City is Ebola free."
Dr. Spencer was a member of Doctors without Borders and had been treating Ebola victims in Guinea before coming down with the illness. CNN stated that “The physician, who is employed at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, began work on a number of projects in Africa in recent years, including in Rwanda where he worked to help develop an emergency care teaching curriculum. He completed his work treating Ebola patients in Guinea on October 12.”
The doctor returned to the US on October 17 and was already monitoring himself for symptoms. He was hospitalized on October 23 after reporting a fever of 100.3 and nausea, pains and fatique. Tests confirmed his diagnosis just hours later.
News of his infection caused widespread public anxiety and near panic among authorities after it was revealed that he had come in contact with large numbers of people after going bowling, eating at a restaurant, visiting a coffee shop, as well as taking a drink in a bar in Brooklyn and riding the subway. So-called "disease detectives" were then called in to analyse those he come in contact with. Authorities said hospital staff members who were treating Spencer were also being watched.
The New York Times says that two friends with whom he had come in close contact have been given the all-clear. However, the paper added that it was unsure if Dr. Spencer could return home, since his fiancee was still in quarantine.
The Washington Post reports that more than 350 people are being monitored for Ebola by the New York City Health Department, most of whom had arrived in New York from Liberia, Guinea or the Sierra Leone.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reassured people that methods of contact-tracing and active monitoring, have helped to stop further transmission of the disease in the U.S. Eight of the nine people treated for the disease in the US have survived.
Quoted in the Washington Post, he stated “In fact, it has worked,” pointing to the fact that all patients in Dallas have all also been cleared. However, he added “That doesn’t mean we are not going to see another case; it’s possible we will,” he said. “[But] I think we are pretty well prepared.”
Dr. Spencer received a range of treatments, which included blood and plasma transfussions from a recovered Ebola patient and an experimental drug. While his condition was extremely serious to begin with, the NYT reports that by last week, he was playing his banjo and using an exercise bicycle, while still in isolation.
This news means that 41 days after the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, there are now no known cases of the virus in the country.
In another recent article, CNN revealed why doctors think people with the virus in the US are recovering better than those in Africa. It quotes Dr. Bruce Ribner of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, who says that while they are not 100 percent sure, they hypothesize that a number of factors have contributed to their success. In the first place, they were realtively young with strong immune systems and good nutrition.
Another factor was that the speed with which they were treated and the “aggressive” nature of that treatment. CNN quotes Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said that the "most important care of patients with Ebola is to manage their fluids and electrolytes, to make sure that they don't get dehydrated." He added that this "requires some meticulous attention to detail and aggressive rehydration in many cases."
The other important factor seems to be the blood and plasma transfusions which survivors received containing anti-bodies from those who had already recovered. Four other patients were also given an experimental drug, but the effectiveness of this medicine is still in question.
Furthermore, except for the one person who died, all the others were treated in the four national hospitals already specifically equipped to deal with such diseases.
However, at the Press Conference today, Dr Spencer added that,
"While my case has garnered international attention, it is important to remember that my infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000 reported cases to date in West Africa; the center of the outbreak, where families are being torn apart and communities destroyed,"
He also appealed that people should not stigmatize health workers who go to Africa to fight the disease,
"Volunteers need to be supported to help fight this outbreak at its source," Spencer said.
The mayor aslo commented about the discrimination and stigmatization some hospital staff faced while Spencer was being treated. "In the middle of this challenge, we have seen some unfortunate things," de Blasio said. "You never discriminate against someone who is helping others… There's no cause for anyone to be treated by anything but respect."