They were together again, at last.
She shrieked and he wagged his tail, no doubt like never before.
Nina Pham, the 26-year-old Texas nurse who survived the Ebola virus, was reunited with her dog, Bentley, on Saturday after the 1-year-old King Charles spaniel tested negative for the virus during his three weeks in quarantine.
“I’d like to take a moment to thank people from all around the world who have sent their best wishes and prayers to me and Mr. Bentley,” Pham said at a news conference at Hensley Field in southwest Dallas.
Pham was diagnosed with Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan became the first person to die of Ebola in the United States.
Eventually Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and was declared free of the virus. She was released Oct. 24. Bentley’s isolation period ended at 2 a.m. Saturday and he was in Pham’s arms by 8:30 a.m., according to Dallas officials, who were celebrating the reunion.
“I join everyone in Dallas in welcoming Nina and Bentley back to the community,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said at the news conference.
During the dog’s 21-day confinement at the decommissioned naval air base, vets wearing full protective suits sent feces, urine and blood samples to a lab to test for Ebola.
The risk that a person could catch Ebola from a dog is exceedingly low, experts say. There has not been a single case of a dog or cat spreading the virus to people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the CDC adds, “there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola” – not even in Africa, where the virus was first identified in the 1970s.
Pham thanked all those who helped care for Bentley during his quarantine, including Dallas Animal Services staff, Texas A&M University and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and state and county health workers.
“I feel like Bentley reentering my life is yet another reminder of hope and encouragement for me moving forward ... with my best friend at my side again.”