US Now Free of All Known Ebola Cases

November 11, 2014
Davy James, Associate Editor

A New York City physician who became infected with Ebola after treating patients in West Africa was released from the hospital after being declared virus free.

A New York City physician who became infected with Ebola after treating patients in West Africa was released from the hospital today after being declared virus free.

Craig Spencer, MD, was confirmed positive for the Ebola virus on October 23, 2014 following his work with patients in West Africa as a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders.

"Dr. Spencer poses no public health risk and will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow, Tuesday, November 11th," the New York City Health Department said in a statement.

Dr. Spencer arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on October 17, 2014, but did not exhibit any symptoms of the virus until 1 week later. Dr. Spencer’s fiancé and 2 friends, who were initially placed under quarantine for active monitoring following the positive test, are set to have their 21-day monitoring period end this week.

The health department was also monitoring 357 people who came into contact with Dr. Spencer, including travelers, hospital staff who were providing care for him, and ambulance staff who brought him to the hospital. The 21-day monitoring period for most of those individuals is set to expire on Thursday.

Dr. Spencer was the fourth person in the United States to test positive for the disease. Ebola index patient Thomas Eric Duncan died from the virus on October 8, 2014, after traveling to Texas from Liberia. A pair of nurses who cared for Duncan also became infected with the virus.

Nurses Amber Vinson, 29, and Nina Pham, 26, who cared for Duncan at a Texas hospital, were the only 2 Americans to become infected from the virus while in the United States. They were both subsequently released from medical care after being declared free of the virus.

To ensure American hospitals are prepared for future Ebola cases, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered $2.7 million in personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies for hospitals that care for Ebola patients. The CDC will put together 50 Ebola emergency kits that can provide the equipment health care workers need to manage the care of an Ebola patient for up to 5 days.

The kits can be rapidly delivered to any facility with a confirmed or suspected Ebola case requiring additional PPE supplies that are not otherwise immediately available. Supplies include impermeable gowns, coveralls, and aprons; boot covers; gloves; face shields and hoods; N95 respirators; powered-air purifying respirator systems and ancillaries; and disinfecting wipes.

“We are making certain to not disrupt the orders submitted by states and hospitals, but we are building our stocks so that we can assist when needed,” said Greg Burel, director of CDC’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile, in a press release.