Health Team

NY doctor's recovery means US is Ebola-free

Posted November 10, 2014
Updated November 11, 2014

— An emergency room doctor who was the first Ebola patient in the nation's biggest city has recovered and was released from the hospital on Tuesday, health officials said.

Dr. Craig Spencer, who was the only Ebola patient being treated in the United States, has been declared free of the virus, the city Department of Health said Monday in a statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Spencer has suffered a lot the last few weeks but has "come back really strong." He called Spencer "a real hero."

"I'm sure he's a little weakened from the experience," de Blasio said, but he's "very, very healthy."

Spencer tested positive for the virus on Oct. 23, just days after returning from treating patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. He has been treated in a specially designed isolation unit at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola treatment center. His condition was upgraded from serious to stable last week, and he was feeling well enough to request an exercise bike and a banjo.

His fiancee and two friends initially were quarantined but were released and are being monitored along with hundreds of others.

Spencer, who's 33, is expected to issue a statement but not take questions when he's released from the hospital.

Health officials have stressed that Ebola is not airborne and can only be spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who is showing symptoms. Still, news of Spencer's infection set many New Yorkers on edge, particularly after details emerged that he rode the subway, dined in a meatball restaurant and visited a bowling alley in the days before he developed a fever and tested positive.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responded by announcing a mandatory 21-day quarantine for travelers who have come in close contact with Ebola patients.

De Blasio and Cuomo had urged residents not to be alarmed by Spencer's Ebola diagnosis, even as they described him riding the subway and taking a cab. De Blasio has said all city officials followed "clear and strong" protocols in their handling and treatment of him and Spencer did right by calling authorities as soon as he got a fever.

Spencer may have been aware of New Yorkers' fears about his case but didn't dwell on it, and he remained upbeat about recovering even in the worst of his illness, said de Blasio, who spoke to him during his hospitalization.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has killed thousands of people, but only a handful of people has been diagnosed or treated in the United States.

Those treated in the U.S. also include American health and aid workers and a journalist who were in West Africa, a Liberian man diagnosed with the virus during a visit to Texas and two nurses who contracted it from him. The man, Thomas Eric Duncan, died; the rest have recovered.

Colleagues in Guinea have said Spencer conscientiously followed safety procedures in place at the Doctors Without Borders clinic in Gueckedou.

Spencer, an attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, has traveled around the world to care for the needy. In the past three years, he'd been to Rwanda to work on an emergency care teaching curriculum, volunteered at a health clinic in Burundi, helped investigate an infectious parasitic disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo and traveled to 32 villages in Indonesia to do a public health survey.

Colleagues have said Spencer has the ability to put patients at ease even when he doesn't know their language, winning them over through hugs and smiles.


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  • Bill Brasky Nov 12, 2014

    So it was all political after all...Sad world we live in.

    Now lets end Ebola once and for all and figure out the source.

  • Kenny Dunn Nov 11, 2014
    user avatar

    What? No mass outbreak? Does this mean NYC is safe again (well, regarding Ebola anyway)?

  • bill0 Nov 11, 2014

    View quoted thread

    The population of west africa is 340million. There are about 6,000 active cases right now. Assume 100 people visit per day (and none of the patients are stopped using existing screening), then we can expect 0.6 new cases per year of accidental exposure.

  • tri123 Nov 11, 2014

    We actually won't be declared "Ebola-free" by the World Health Organization until 42 days after he tested negative. Until then I guess North Korea can keep banning USA visitors for being from an Ebola nation.

  • sinenomine Nov 11, 2014

    RAPHAEL27520, assuming your statistics for arrivals from West Africa are correct they have undoubtedly been so for a long time. Notwithstanding that there has been exactly one native of West Africa who has come here and brought Ebola with him. Numerically it's not really that big of a problem.

    I'm guessing you may be one of those whose answer is imposing a travel ban. Doing that will leave Ebola raging in Africa with every probability that it will continue to creep into this country now and then for years to come. The only way to avoid that is to kill Ebola at its source which is what President Obama and others are trying to do by sending military members and other groups across the sea to fight it on its own turf. Only when West Africa is free of Ebola will we be as well.

  • Progressiveredneck Nov 11, 2014

    Where are the people who were saying the Government was hiding all the ebola cases until after the election?

  • sinenomine Nov 11, 2014

    Love your comment John63. You're right. I'm waiting for it.

  • raphael27520 Nov 11, 2014

    "NY doctor's recovery means US is Ebola-free"

    Until the next Ebola patient flies into the US from West Africa, 100+ travelers from West Africa come to the US every day.

  • sinenomine Nov 11, 2014

    How can the US stay Ebola-free for long when right-wingers assure us that there are several million Mexicans with President Obama at their head just waiting to stream across the border to infect us all?

  • John Heitzenrater Nov 11, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    don't worry, someone will probably comment soon that the cdc is lying and that there are ebola patients everywhere. oh, wait, the election is over. maybe not, then.