Nina Pham, the first nurse in Dallas to be infected with Ebola, is now free of the virus, and will be released from the hospital today (Oct. 24), officials said.
"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said at a news conference today. "Throughout this ordeal, I have put my trust in God and my medical team," Pham said. "I as a nurse, I have special appreciation for the care I have recived from so many people."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that doctors know Pham is virus-free, as she has had five consecutive negative tests. "She represents the nurses and health care workers who put themselves on the line," to care for people in need, Fauci said. [Video: Ebola Survivor Nurse Speaks At Press Conference]
Pham was admitted last Thursday (Oct. 16) to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, which is one of four hospitals in the U.S. with high-level containment rooms.
She contracted Ebola when she cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, in late September. Pham tested positive for the virus on Oct. 12.
Another nurse who also treated Duncan tested positive for the virus a few days later, and is currently receiving care at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
It's still not clear how Pham became infected with the virus. However, some people have questioned the original guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to use personal protective equipment when treating Ebola patients. The agency announced on Monday (Oct. 20) that it had updated those guidelines to better protect workers.
Health care workers are at higher risk for Ebola infection because they often treat patients who have reached the stage of the infection with the most symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with an infected person, their bodily fluids, such as blood or secretions, or contaminated objects, such as needles and syringes, according to the CDC. People with Ebola are contagious only after they start showing symptoms.
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Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.