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N.Y. doctor to be released after treatment for Ebola

Craig Spencer, the Manhattan doctor who treated Ebola patients in West Africa, is free of the virus and will be released Tuesday, New York City announced Monday.

Spencer, 33, who had been in Guinea working with Doctors Without Borders when he was infected, was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center on Oct. 23 after reporting a fever of 100.3 to authorities.

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He was the ninth person to be treated in the United States for the virus, which has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa during the current outbreak.

The fatality rate in Africa is estimated to be about 70%, but victims treated in the United States have fared much better. Only one person has died: Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who was the first Ebola patient diagnosed on U.S. soil. He died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where he was hospitalized Sept. 28.

News of Spencer's infection touched off a flurry of fear in New York and prompted new regulations by New York and New Jersey to deal with healthcare workers and others arriving from West Africa.

Spencer had been monitoring his temperature since returning to the U.S., and called authorities when he developed a fever. He was taken to a secure ward; a blood test confirmed the presence of the virus.

Days earlier, Spencer, who lives in Manhattan, had gone bowling in Brooklyn. He had dined out and had also taken a ride on the subway.

Those activiites worried residents, but medical officials quickly pointed out that Ebola is spread only through direct contact -- not through the air. To be infected, a person would have had to come in direct contact with Spencer's bodily fluids, such as vomit, blood or excrement.

No other cases of Ebola have been reported in New York, although officials recently said hundreds of people are being monitored for symptoms. The overwhelming majority are travelers returning from West Africa, officials said.

As part of the more stringent regulations, Kaci Hickox, a Maine nurse and Doctors Without Borders volunteer, was held in a tent in Newark, N.J., for three days, even though she didn't have any Ebola symptoms. Hickox was eventually released and was allowed to go home to Maine, which also tried to keep her isolated. That effort was struck down by a local court.

Hickox's 21-day period of self-monitoring was scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

No symptoms have been reported.

Follow @latimesmuskal for national news.

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