New York City doctor Craig Spencer has been declared free of the Ebola virus. The 33-year-old is America’s last known Ebola case and was formally discharged from Bellevue Hospital Center.
“It’s a very, very good day,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference on Tuesday, at Bellevue Hospital Center. “Dr. Spencer is Ebola-free, and New York City is Ebola-free.”
The young doctor had returned to the U.S. on Friday, October 17th, after treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. Six days later, on October 23, Spencer reported symptoms of the virus and was then immediately transported to an isolation ward at Bellevue, where he tested positive for the disease. A little over a week later, on Saturday, November 1st, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation upgraded Spencer’s health from “serious but stable” to “stable”.
“I’m elated,” said Ram Raju, M.D., president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, “because we were able to treat and cure a hero.”
As the fourth person diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. and the first in NYC, Spencer received experimental treatments at Bellevue, including antiviral therapy and a plasma transfusion from health worker and Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol, who contacted it while working in Liberia.
Throughout his public statement, Spencer thanked Bellevue staff members for their “tremendous care and support” and conveyed pride over his work and the work of his peers with Doctors Without Borders. He noted that he is a “living example that early detection is critical in ensuring that [Ebola] is not transmitted to others.”
“Complacency, false security and above all fear are Ebola’s greatest allies,” said Sophie Delaunay, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on November 4th that 13,268 people have contracted Ebola during the current outbreak in West Africa, while 4,960 people have died from it.
“There’s work to be done now,” de Blasio said, “because the crisis continues in West Africa. We’re so thrilled that Dr. Spencer is well, but that is not a cause for complacency.”
In regards to recent stigmatization of organizations like Doctors Without Borders and health care workers associated with them, he added, “There is no cause for anyone to be treated with anything but respect for serving people in need.”