US Ebola-Free

The US is Ebola-free, at least for now. Craig Spencer, MD, the New York City physician who contracted Ebola as a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea will be released from city-run Bellevue Hospital Center tomorrow. He has been a patient there since Oct. 23 sparking a city-wide alarm about whether he might have spread the virus in the days before he was diagnosed.

The US is Ebola-free, at least for now.

Craig Spencer, MD, the New York City physician who contracted Ebola as a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea will be released from city-run Bellevue Hospital Center Tuesday. He has been a patient there since Oct. 23, sparking a city-wide alarm about whether he might have spread the virus in the days before he was diagnosed.

The hospital scheduled a news conference for Tuesday, where he will appear with Mayor Bill de Blasio, other city officials, and hospital staff who cared for him.

With Spencer pronounced cured, the US currently has no Ebola patients.

According to a statement from a hospital spokeswoman, “After a rigorous course of treatment and testing, Dr. Spencer poses no public health risk and will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow.”

Among those treatments was an experimental drug and blood plasma donated by a recovered Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, who contracted the virus while she cared for patients as a medical missionary in Liberia.

Mayor de Blasio and health officials had designated Bellevue as the official place for suspected Ebola victims to be taken. Spencer's presence at the hospital had repercussions for Bellevue employees involved in his care, several of whom reported being stigmatized by those who were afraid of somehow catching the disease from them.

According to the NYState Nurses Association, that included Bellevue nurses being told they were not welcome at second jobs where they picked up extra shifts, a nurse who was told her child couldn’t attend day care, and other instances of places refusing to serve them.

Even inside the hospital, the nurses treating Spencer reported being snubbed by their peers.The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly said Ebola is hard to transmit, spread only by direct contract with body fluids of a patient with a high viral load.

But fear likely stemmed from the fact that two Dallas, TX, nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died there Oct. 8, did contract the disease despite wearing protective gear.

Bellevue Hospital officials called attention to the discrimination in New York, holding a news conference during which they said the fears were cruel to employees, and irrational. Spencer’s fiancée Morgan Dixon was briefly hospitalized at Bellevue but released to continue her quarantine at the Hamilton Heights apartment the two share.

The NY City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is currently monitoring 357 individuals for signs of the virus, mostly travelers arriving at JFK International Airport from the Ebola hot zone in West Africa. The monitoring, which includes daily phone calls in which patients report their body temperatures, lasts for 21 days.