- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The second person to contract Ebola in the U.S. is virus-free and was released from an Atlanta hospital Tuesday.

Amber Vinson, 29, was one of two nurses to test positive for the virus after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who came to the U.S. last month and then died from Ebola, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Her colleague, 26-year-old Nina Pham, was released from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, last week.

While four people have been diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., the pair of nurses are the only ones who actually contracted the viral disease within its borders.

Ms. Vinson, dressed in a business suit instead of hospital garb, appeared to wipe away tears during a press conference announcing her discharge from Emory University Hospital.

“First and foremost, I was to thank God. I sincerely believe that with God, all things are possible,” Ms. Vinson said, before thanking her family and members of the health care team.

“While this is a day for celebration and gratitude, I ask that we not lose focus on the thousands of families who continue to labor under the burdens of this disease in West Africa,” she said.

In the days after treating Duncan, Ms. Vinson took a commercial plane to Ohio to visit family and plan her wedding. She reported a low-grade fever to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before returning but got clearance to fly, raising eyebrows and forcing the agency’s director to say she should not have been on a plane.

She did not take any questions Tuesday and asked the media to respect her family’s privacy as she heads back to Texas.

Bruce Ribner, medical director of the serious communicable diseases unit at Emory University Hospital, said Ms. Vinson can return to her community “without any concerns about transmitting this virus to any other individuals.”

He asked the public not to let fear cannot get in the way of treating people with serious diseases, and he realizes that states will have to balance concerns of the public with best practices for people exposed to Ebola, which has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa this year but is new many Americans.

Dr. Ribner said recent events may have “changed the algorithm” for how Ebola patients can be treated. Earlier this year, many believed a person with Ebola who needed dialysis or respiratory ventilation may have been a lost cause.

Now he does not think that is the case.

The doctor said it is not clear why Ms. Pham and Ms. Vinson fared so well under treatment, but hypothesized that their relative youth played a role, as did wearing protective gear that may have shielded them from a higher viral load of Ebola.

He also asked Americans to focus on the mission in West Africa and trust the science around Ebola.

“We know the modes of transmission, this is not a virus which is very easy to acquire through casual contact or the air,” he said.


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