Nina Pham, a nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for the first Ebola-stricken patient in Dallas, is now virus-free.
“I think hope just went up a notch today by the fact that we are all here to celebrate the recovery of a patient who was afflicted with a disease that is obviously very serious,” said National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins.
NIH announced Friday morning that Pham no longer tested positive for Ebola. Officials there were making plans to discharge her from the Bethesda, Maryland, facility where she had been receiving care for the past week. Details of those plans, however, were being kept confidential out of concern for the privacy of Pham and her family.
Pham contracted the virus while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who became the first Ebola patient diagnosed within the U.S., at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Her diagnosis was confirmed on Oct. 12. Four days later, Pham was moved to NIH, where she was placed in a special isolation care ward for infectious disease cases.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, said health workers had administered multiple tests to Pham to determine that she no longer had the virus. Five consecutive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests came back negative, giving them confidence she is no longer infectious.
“She has no virus in her,” said Dr. Fauci. “She’s cured of Ebola, let’s get that clear. That’s for sure.”
Speaking briefly in front of reporters at the NIH facility, Pham thanked both God and medical professionals for her recovery.
“I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” she said. “I know that it may be awhile before I have my strength back so with gratitude and respect … I ask for my privacy and my family’s privacy.”
All told, four people, including Duncan, have been diagnosed with Ebola inside the United States. A second Dallas nurse, Amber Vinson, was reportedly cleared two days ago. Duncan died Oct. 8.
Dr. Craig Spencer of New York City, who was admitted to a hospital Thursday after reporting symptoms, became the fourth case diagnosed in the United States and the first diagnosed outside of Texas. Spencer had been in Guinea fighting the spread of Ebola with the group Doctors Without Borders.