The first nurse in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola, Nina Pham, is now free of the virus and was released from the hospital earlier today.
Pham is one of two nurses to contract Ebola in Dallas while caring for infected patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who succumbed to the virus earlier this month. She was transferred to Bethesda, Md., where she was treated at the National Institutes of Health hospital.
“I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” said Pham, addressing reporters outside the hospital, before adding that “it may be a while before I have my strength back.”
Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the NIH, that Pham represents no threat to the public. “She is cured of Ebola, let’s get that clear,” Fauci said, explaining that Pham had passed five consecutive tests that showed there was no virus left in her blood.
The news of Pham’s release comes amid mixed news on the broader fight against Ebola. Yesterday, the second nurse afflicted by Ebola in Texas – Amber Vinson – was declared free of the life threatening virus. But, today, officials in New York confirmed the city’s first case of Ebola.
Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who returned from treating patients in Africa last week, began showing symptoms (fever, nausea, pain and fatigue) Thursday morning and was promptly admitted to the Bellevue Hospital Center.
Spencer is currently being held in isolation but investigators who reconstructed his movements since arriving back in the US say that he did ride the subway, go for a jog and visit a bowling alley. His fiancé, along with his two friends, are under quarantine and the bowling alley has been temporarily closed.
Like in previous cases, officials in New York have been working to stem public panic. “”There is no cause for alarm,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids are simply not at risk.”
Elsewhere, Ebola has spread to yet another West African country, Mali. It was carried by a two-year old girl who crossed the border from neighboring Guinea.
A press briefing on Pham’s discharge is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. EDT. Watch the live NIH stream here.