World Texas nurse Nina Pham cured of Ebola

Texas nurse Nina Pham cured of Ebola

Nina Pham
Nina Pham

An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital Friday.

The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside the capital will hold a press conference at 11:30 am (1530 GMT) to discuss the details of Nina Pham’s release, a spokeswoman told AFP. 

Pham was the first US healthcare worker to be infected with Ebola while working inside the United States, after Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on September 28. 

Duncan, who is believed to have been infected in his native Liberia before traveling to Texas to visit family, died on October 8. 

Pham’s Ebola diagnosis was announced October 12. She was initially hospitalized in Dallas at the hospital where she worked, but was transferred to a specialized facility, the NIH Clinical Center, for treatment on October 16.

Her colleague, nurse Amber Vinson, was also infected while caring for Duncan.

Both women worked in the intensive care unit at the hospital and had extensive contact with Duncan when he sick, though it remains unknown exactly how they were infected.

Vinson’s family said earlier this week that she too was now free of the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 4,800 people in West Africa so far this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said a “breach of protocol” was to blame, and has since issued stricter guidelines for donning protective gear when caring for Ebola patients.

Ebola is spread though close contact with the sweat, vomit, blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person.

Health care workers are at particular risk of contracting Ebola. Late Thursday, a doctor in New York who had been working in Guinea was found to be infected with Ebola.

The 33-year-old doctor, identified in US media as Craig Spencer, arrived back in America’s largest city at JFK airport on October 17.

He had been traveling from Guinea via Europe, after working with Ebola patients in West Africa for the charity Doctors Without Borders.

A total of nine people with Ebola have been cared for in the United States. Only the Liberian patient has died of the virus here. 

Meanwhile, the West African nation of Mali announced its first case of Ebola, in a two-year-old girl who had recently been in Guinea.

Most of the nearly 10,000 Ebola infections so far this year have been in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.

There is no drug on the market to treat Ebola, and no approved vaccine to prevent it the often deadly virus that first emerged in 1976.

The WHO said that Ebola vaccine trials could start in West Africa in December, with hundreds of thousands of doses potentially being rolled out by mid-2015.