Thirty-three year old Dr. Craig Spenser was the last Ebola patient in the US, and having been cured of the disease at the Bellevue Hospital, New York, he has been released to the warm cheers and embrace of well-wishers congratulating him for his recovery.
Spenser contracted Ebola while working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, and had prompted reported to health authorities at the Bellevue Hospital ahead of his arrival when he developed high fever. The hospital management had swung into action and performed drill protocols in anticipation of his arrival, and he was immediately taken into emergency the moment he arrived. Although his transportation through public vehicles in the city had attracted city-wide panic and condemnation, all the vehicles were disinfected and no one infected with the disease.
“Today I am healthy and no longer infectious,” Spencer told the cheering crowd hugging and embracing him. “My recovery from Ebola speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols in place for health staff returning from West Africa at the time of my infection. I am a living example of how those protocols work, and of how early detection and isolation is critical to both surviving Ebola and ensuring that it is not transmitted to others.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also attested to Spencer’s recovery and wellness by saying “it is a good feeling to hug a hero and we have a hero here in our midst. Dr. Spencer is Ebola-free, and New York City is Ebola-free.”
As much as Spencer is elated at his recovery and release from hospital, he is not forgetting the people he left behind in West Africa. “My recovery from Ebola speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols in place for health staff returning from West Africa at the time of my infection. I am a living example of how those protocols work, and of how early detection and isolation is critical to both surviving Ebola and ensuring that it is not transmitted to others.
“While my case has garnered international attention, it is important to remember that my infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000 reported cases to date in West Africa — the center of the outbreak, where families are being torn apart and communities destroyed,” he said. He also recalled his service to the Guinean people and how well they bid him well now. “During this time, I cried as I held children who were not strong enough to survive the virus. But I also experienced immense joy when patients I treated were cured and invited me into their family as a brother upon discharge. Within a week of my diagnosis, many of these same patients called my personal phone to wish me well and ask if there was any way they could contribute to my care.”
About 100 medical staff that treated Spencer when he was in isolation have been placed under inspection and will be monitored for the 21-day incubation period, but his fiancée and two other friends will be released by the end of the week. And while the US is now officially free of Ebola, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden cautions that while the epidemic continues to rampage parts of Africa, the rest of the world is still at risk and they must all remain alert to any possible cases.