The New York City doctor Craig Spencer, who was the first and so far the only Ebola patient in the city, will be released from Bellevue Hospital Center on Tuesday morning, according to The New York Times.
The 33-year-old doctor contracted Ebola while treating patients in Guinea. He returned to New York on Oct. 17, and developed symptoms, including a mild fever, several days later, on Oct. 23. Spencer reported his symptoms to health officials and was immediately transferred to the hospital, where he tested positive for Ebola.
Before getting sick, Spencer went for a run, took the subway and went bowling in Brooklyn. He was not contagious during this time; people with Ebola do not become contagious until levels of the virus have increased to the point that the individuals have symptoms, health officials have previously said. The search for people who may have had contact with Spencer after he might have become contagious led officials to quarantine two of his friends and his fiancé. [2014 Ebola Outbreak: Full Coverage of the Viral Epidemic]
The plan to release Dr. Spencer has not been publicly announced; the Times reported that it received the news from sources who wished to remain unidentified.
Spencer received an experimental Ebola drug as well as blood plasma donated by a recovered Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, a 59-year-old missionary who contracted the virus in Liberia and was treated in Atlanta. Doctors believe blood plasma of recovered Ebola patients may be helpful because it contains antibodies to the virus.
Spencer is the last of several U.S. healthcare workers who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa and were successfully treated in the Unites States. Two Texas nurses who contracted the virus while caring for the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States were also treated successfully and left the hospital recently.
The ongoing Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia has sickened more than 13,000 people and caused nearly 5,000 deaths in those countries so far.
Several reports have suggested that treating Ebola patients with more-intensive care could save more lives.
Health care workers are at higher risk of contracting Ebola than the general public because they are more likely to have contact with the body fluids of people in the contagious stages of the disease. Moreover, hospitalized Ebola patients are often highly contagious because have reached the stage of the infection with the most symptoms and the highest viral load in their bodily fluids.
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