UK & World News

  • 22 August 2014, 3:34

Ebola Doctor 'Thrilled' As He Leaves Hospital

Two US medical missionaries who were infected with ebola while working in the West African nation of Liberia have left hospital after nearly three weeks in an isolation unit.

Dr Kent Brantly walked into a press conference holding hands with his wife and hugged the doctors who cared for him.

It emerged that his fellow patient, Nancy Writebol, was discharged from the same facility on Tuesday.

"Today is a miraculous day," Dr Brantly, 33, told journalists at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

"I'm thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family."

Dr Bruce Ribner, medical director of the hospital's infectious disease unit, said neither patient posed a public health threat.

"After a rigorous course of treatment and testing," he told the news conference, "the Emory healthcare team has determined that both patients have recovered from the Ebola virus and can return to their families and community without concern for spreading this infection to others."

Dr Ribner paid tribute to both patients' "spirit and strength".

The husband of 59-year-old Ms Writebol said she left hospital, still feeling weak, to recuperate at an undisclosed location.

Both Americans were flown out of Liberia this month after contracting the disease while treating ebola patients at a hospital near the capital Monrovia.

Dr Brantly told the news conference that he contracted the disease despite following all recommended health protocols.

He said the hospital where he was working admitted its first ebola patient in June, and then the number of sick steadily increased.

Dr Brantly said that on July 23, "I woke up feeling under the weather, and then my life took an unexpected turn as I was diagnosed with ebola virus disease".

He said he had taken his wife and children to the airport three days earlier.

Ms Writebol and Dr Brantly were given a clean bill of health based on blood and urine samples among other tests, hospital officials said.

They received an experimental treatment called Zmapp, though it is not clear whether the drug aided their recovery.

Dr Ribner said of Zmapp: "Frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference or whether it theoretically delayed their recovery."

The drug could not save the life of a Spanish missionary priest who was infected with ebola, however, three Liberian healthcare workers taking Zmapp are said to be improving.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland's health authority said a person found dead in County Donegal on Thursday morning was suspected to have been infected with ebola.

World Health Organizationofficials visited two hospitals in Liberia on Thursday where authorities have sealed off entire neighbourhoods to try to stop the spread of the disease.

The ebola outbreak has killed at least 1,350 people across Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in western Africa.

It is only spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of those infected with the virus who are experiencing symptoms.

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