Latest Infectious Disease News
TUESDAY, Oct. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The freelance cameraman who was diagnosed with Ebola while working for NBC News in Liberia has cleared the virus from his system and can leave the special isolation unit at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he had been treated for the past two weeks, the hospital said Tuesday.
A blood test confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Ashoka Mukpo, 33, can head home to Providence, R.I., NBC News reported Tuesday night.
"Recovering from Ebola is a truly humbling feeling," the hospital quoted Mukpo as saying. "Too many are not as fortunate and lucky as I've been. I'm very happy to be alive."
Mukpo is one of eight Americans who have been diagnosed with the often deadly virus that has been plaguing three West Africa nations -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- since the spring.
Another patient, Nina Pham, is being treated at the U.S. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md.; her condition was upgraded from fair to good on Tuesday.
Pham was one of two American nurses at a Dallas hospital who contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who was the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed on American soil. The other nurse, Amber Vinson, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
The latest good news followed reports that an unidentified patient being treated at Emory is now "free of Ebola virus disease" and was discharged Sunday from the facility, the medical center said in a statement released Monday afternoon.
The man, who has requested anonymity since being admitted to Emory's Serious Communicable Disease Unit on Sept. 9, now poses no threat to public health and has left the hospital for an "undisclosed location," the hospital added.
Emory had previously successfully treated two medical missionaries who became infected in West Africa, the site of the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
Also on Monday, health officials said dozens of people who had contact with Duncan, who died on Oct. 8, are no longer in danger of catching the disease.
Those people included the fiancee and other family members of Duncan, who contracted the disease in his home country before arriving in Dallas last month.
Also cleared were the paramedics who drove Duncan to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas on Sept. 28 and health care workers who drew or processed his blood. And a mandatory quarantine was lifted for a homeless man who later rode in the same ambulance as Duncan before it was disinfected.
All told, the 21-day monitoring period ended Sunday and Monday for roughly 50 people.
An estimated 120 people remain under watch because they could have had contact with one of the three people in Dallas who came down with the disease. Besides Duncan, the other two include the two nurses who treated him at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Federal health officials have said that symptoms of Ebola show up within 21 days of exposure to the virus.
In other developments:
- Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with 160 million people, has been declared free of Ebola. Officials attributed aggressive health care measures that led to just 20 cases of infection and eight deaths.
- Leaders of the European Union have set a goal of nearly $1.3 billion in aid to help combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Meanwhile, U.S. health officials on Monday tightened guidelines for health care workers treating Ebola patients.
The new recommendations call for full-body suits and hoods with no skin exposure and use of a respirator at all times. There will also be stricter rules for removing equipment and disinfecting hands, and the designation of a "site manager" to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment used while treating a patient.
The revised guidelines are apparently in response to the two nurses in Dallas who became infected with Ebola while treating Duncan.
Health officials aren't sure how the nurses became infected with Ebola.
But, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the nurses caring for Duncan had some of their skin exposed.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed nearly 4,500 people out of an estimated 9,000 reported cases, according to the World Health Organization.
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SOURCES: Oct. 20, 2014, statement, Emory Health Sciences; Oct. 18, 2014, White House weekly address; NBC News;