Latest Infectious Disease News
MONDAY, Nov. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Dr. Craig Spencer, the only patient currently hospitalized for Ebola in the United States, is now free of the virus and will be discharged Tuesday morning from the New York City hospital where he has been treated, the New York Times reported.
Spencer, 33, contracted the often-fatal illness while caring for Ebola patients in Guinea, one of three West African countries hit hard by the recent outbreak. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan by ambulance on Oct. 23 with a fever of 100.3 degrees and has been cared for in isolation since then. Numerous contacts of Spencer have been monitored for signs of Ebola infection during that time, but no new cases have arisen.
According to the Times, his imminent release after 19 days of treatment was relayed to the paper by "two people familiar with his treatment" but Bellevue has yet to confirm the news.
Spencer is the last of nine Ebola patients who have been treated in the United States. Only one patient died -- Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who succumbed at a hospital in Dallas on Oct. 8. All others have recovered from Ebola, something experts attribute to the high level of care patients are receiving in the United States.
According to the Times, Spencer has received every Ebola treatment available, including blood plasma from a prior (now recovered) U.S. patient, Nancy Writebol, as well as an experimental medicine.
He had been showing signs of recovery late last week. Reports described him as whiling away his time in isolation in his hospital room playing the banjo.
News of Spencer's illness sent jitters through the nation's largest city, as officials retraced his steps in the days prior to his admission to Bellevue. He said that over the few days prior to the onset of symptoms he had eaten at a restaurant, gone bowling, and taken the subway and a taxi. None of those activities seems to have resulted in Spencer transmitting the virus, however.
Experts believe that Ebola can only be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids while a person is exhibiting symptoms.
The Times said it remains unclear if Spencer will return to his apartment in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan, where his fiancee, Morgan Dixon, remains under quarantine.
The ongoing Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has so far involved over 13,000 cases, with almost 5,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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SOURCES: New York Times; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention