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U.S. now Ebola-free as doctor leaves hospital in New York

Dr. Craig Spencer, whose Ebola diagnosis fueled fears of the virus' spread in New York City and prompted the state to mandate quarantines for some travelers, was released from a hospital Tuesday after recovering from the disease.

"Dr. Spencer is Ebola-free and New York City is Ebola-free," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference.

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Spencer's successful treatment leaves the country officially Ebola-free. Late Monday, a Maine nurse, Kaci Hickox, ended a mandatory 21-day quarantine without showing symptoms of the often lethal virus.

"Thank you so much. Thank you so much," Spencer, appearing pale but smiling broadly, said as he hugged the mayor.

"Dr. Spencer showed us what it means to help your fellow humans," said De Blasio. "It's a very, very good day."

Applause erupted in the Bellevue Hospital atrium as nearly 30 nurses and other medical staff who treated Spencer walked into the hall shortly before Spencer's arrival.

"Today is proof that proper preparedness and erring on the side of caution can save lives," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I am greatly relieved to hear of Dr. Spencer's recovery and thank him for his important and heroic work on the front lines of this devastating epidemic in West Africa."

Spencer, 33, had been in Guinea working with the aid group Doctors Without Borders.  Nearly 5,000 people have died from the disease.

He had been hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan since Oct. 23, when he reported a fever of 100.3 to public health officials and was rushed by ambulance from his upper Manhattan apartment. Spencer had returned to New York from Guinea a few days earlier.

Nine people have been treated for Ebola in this country. One has died: Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who was hospitalized on Sept. 28 at Dallas' Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan died on Oct. 8.

In brief remarks, Spencer urged people to focus on the Ebola outbreak overseas. “While my case has garnered international attention, it is important to remember my infection represents but a fraction of the more than 13,000” cases reported in West Africa, he said.
Spencer also thanked the medical team that cared for him, and made a special point of thanking his primary care physician, Dr. Laura Evans. He took no questions and left the hospital with his parents.
Spencer’s fiancée remains in quarantine; she is due to be freed from quarantine on Friday and has shown no symptoms.
Dr. Mary Bassett, New York’s health commissioner, said the city has 289 people under “active monitoring,” meaning they are having their temperatures taken daily and having to report it to health officials. None has shown any symptoms, Bassett said. Most of those under monitoring were travelers who arrived within the last 21 days from Ebola-stricken regions in West Africa.
The head of Doctors Without Borders in the United States, Sophie Delaunay, said the aid group was proud of Spencer for having gone to West Africa to fight Ebola, and for having reported his fever immediately when he became symptomatic.
She also lamented the criticisms of Spencer for having gone out in public, including bowling and riding the subway, after his return from Guinea. “There was a lot of stigma and criticism around him,” she said.
Doctors have said Spencer was not symptomatic or contagious when he went out.

Twitter: Follow @tinasusman for national news.

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