Texas to End Ebola Monitoring With Check on Health Worker

Texas is winding down its monitoring of people who had contact with the state’s three Ebola patients, with the 21-day period ending tomorrow for a final hospital worker.

The unnamed worker, who handled medical waste Oct. 17, will be cleared from twice-daily checks by the end of the day tomorrow, the Texas State Health Services Department said today in a statement. The person is one of 177 people, including health-care workers and members of the patients’ households and communities, who have been monitored, the agency said.

The worker’s clearance would represent the end of a saga that temporarily made Dallas the focal point for the debate over U.S. preparedness for the virus. The city’s Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital accepted its first Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, after initially sending him away two days earlier. While Duncan died Oct. 8, two nurses who had contact with him and were infected have recovered.

The initial fear that accompanied Ebola’s arrival in the U.S. is dying down as it becomes clear that transmission is rare with proper monitoring. Ohio, where Dallas nurse Amber Vinson traveled before she was diagnosed, was declared Ebola-free earlier this week.

In New York, 357 people are under monitoring, mostly recent arrivals from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone where the Ebola outbreak is centered. Craig Spencer, the New York City doctor who contracted Ebola while caring for patients in Guinea, is improving and remains in stable condition, health authorities said yesterday.

The Ebola outbreak has claimed almost 5,000 lives after infecting about 13,000 people -- mostly in West Africa, where it continues to be a significant threat. There is no approved cure for the disease, and current standard care involves supporting the patient and using antibiotics to fight secondary infections -- treatment that’s easier to handle in the developed world.

President Barack Obama asked Congress yesterday for $6.2 billion in emergency funding to combat the spread of the virus in West Africa and reduce risks for U.S. citizens.

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