Dallas Nurse Cleared of Ebola Virus, Released by NIHDrew Armstrong and Anna Edney
Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse infected with Ebola while caring for a patient in the city, was released from the hospital and met with President Barack Obama after testing confirmed she no longer has the virus.
Pham was infected while she was part of the team that treated Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who arrived in the U.S. last month and became the first ever U.S.-diagnosed case of the deadly virus. Pham was transfered from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Pham is now virus-free, the NIH said in an e-mailed statement today, eight days after being brought to the NIH center and placed in a special isolation unit. She hugged Obama at their meeting in the Oval Office. Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said Pham had been tested five times by NIH.
Pham, in a brief appearance today at the NIH hospital, said she felt “fortunate and blessed.”
She didn’t reveal how she would return to Texas and asked for her privacy to be respected as she resumes normal activities.
Pham didn’t receive any experimental drugs at NIH, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a briefing today with reporters. Kent Brantly, the American aid worker who caught Ebola in Liberia and is now cured, donated plasma to Pham.
“I’m going to miss Nina a lot,” Fauci said. “I gave her my cell phone number just in case I get lonely.”
Fauci attended the White House meeting with Pham as well as her mother, Diana Pham, sister Catherine Pham and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
Texas Health Resources Chief Executive Officer Barclay Berdan said the Dallas hospital is “thrilled” Pham is free of the virus.
“Her colleagues and friends eagerly look forward to welcoming her back,” Berdan said. “Her courage and spirit, first in treating a critically ill Ebola patient and then in winning her own battle against the disease, has truly inspired all of us.”
A second Dallas nurse, Amber Vinson, is still being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which has treated three other Ebola patients. Tests no longer detect the virus in her blood and she remains at the hospital for continued supportive care, Emory said in a statement. The hospital hasn’t set a discharge date.
There is no approved cure in the U.S. for Ebola. The current standard of care involves replacing fluids and electrolytes, and using antibiotics to fight off opportunistic infections.