The place where Ebola first surfaced in the United States is officially clear of the disease, as the last hospital worker being monitored for potential exposure to the virus was declared no longer at risk Friday.
The news marked the end of a nearly six-week saga in Dallas, where Thomas Duncan, a Liberian man who had flown to Texas before showing symptoms of the disease, was diagnosed Sept. 30. He died eight days later at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas hospital.
Duncan’s case, along with the infection of two nurses who treated him, caused headlines and hysteria over the prospect of a broader Ebola outbreak in the country. It also prompted the Obama administration and state officials to put in place new restrictions for anyone entering the United States from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa.
Health officials had monitored a total of 177 people in Texas for contact with one of the three people diagnosed with Ebola in the state. Dozens of people who had possible contact with Duncan were cleared last month, and officials continued to monitor medical workers who interacted with Duncan or any of his bodily fluids.
The last person being monitored was a hospital worker who handled medical waste Oct. 17, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Only nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson were infected, and both women have been successfully treated and released.
“We are grateful that two caregivers who shared the fight against this insidious virus are healthy. These two courageous nurses, and so many others, put the needs of a patient first and valiantly worked to save the life of a man who faced, and ultimately lost, his battle with this disease,” Barclay Berdan, chief executive of Texas Health Resources, said in a statement Friday. “We emerge from this experience both humbled and empowered with a new strength of purpose.”
Nina Pham also marked the milestone Friday on Twitter:
Dallas is officially #Ebola free today! So grateful to all the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers that were involved in my care.
— Nina Pham (@Nina_Pham) November 7, 2014
So did Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Nurses are on front lines stopping Ebola. Grateful for recovery of 2 nurses who cared for Mr. Duncan, & no further spread from him or them.
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFriedenCDC) November 7, 2014
With all contacts being monitored in Texas now past the 21-day incubation period for the virus, the United States officially has only one person in the United States with Ebola — Craig Spencer, a New York doctor who developed symptoms after treating patients in West Africa. Spencer also is recovering and is expected to be released from Bellevue Hospital in coming days.
That’s a stark contrast to West Africa, where the latest outbreak numbers published by the World Health Organization on Friday showed that at least 4,960 people have died of Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.