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Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who became the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the latest outbreak, has given an emotional account of her ordeal as she left hospital.
Teresa Romero, 44, said she had clung to memories of family when she thought she was dying and still does not know how she caught the disease.
She had treated two returning Spanish missionaries who later died.
Teresa Romero vowed to donate blood to other Ebola victims until she “ran dry”.
In her first press conference after being discharged from the Carlos III hospital, she also condemned Spanish officials for putting down her dog.
She said they had unnecessarily “executed” the mixed breed Excalibur.
On her release from hospital, Teresa Romero read a statement, saying: “When I felt I was dying I would cling to my memories, to my family and my husband, I was isolated and I did not have any contact with the exterior except with (husband) Javier by telephone.”
She said she felt the disease “did not matter to the Western world until there was an infection here”.
Teresa Romero became the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the latest outbreak (photo AFP)
She added: “I don’t know what failed, or if anything failed. I just know that I don’t hold any grudges.”
Teresa Romero recovered after being given a variety of treatments including blood plasma from survivor Paciencia Melgar.
She said that she wanted to meet the nun and “give her a big hug”.
“I can never be grateful enough,” she said.
An antiviral drug was also given to Teresa Romero but the hospital was unable to say which method had been successful.
The nurse said that if her blood helped cure another Ebola sufferer she would “repeat it again until I run dry”.
Teresa Romero also thanked the hospital staff for their support and said it would have been “impossible” to save her life without it.
Hospital chief Rafael Perez-Santamarina told reporters it was “excellent news after a very complicated month for everyone”.
Teresa Romero no longer posed a risk and could lead a normal life, said Jose Ramon Arribas, the head of the Carlos III hospital’s infectious diseases unit.
Although she would be able to return to home, she would need “time for a full recovery from a very dramatic event,” his colleague Jose Ramon Arribas added.
“The main joy is that finally it’s been possible to save someone with Ebola and more importantly a colleague,” fellow nurse Esther Bellon said.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed some 5,000 people. The vast majority of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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Nurse Kaci Hickox has defied the Ebola quarantine order, leaving her house in Maine for a brief bike ride.
She returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone on October 24.
Kaci Hickox maintains isolation is unnecessary, as she has no symptoms and has tested negative for Ebola.
Maine officials have vowed to go to court to try to enforce the quarantine.
About 5,000 people have died of the disease in West Africa, but only nine patients have been treated for the virus on US soil.
More than 13,700 people have been sickened in the Ebola outbreak, the vast majority in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Ebola, which is only spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of a sick patient, has a 21-day incubation period.
Kaci Hickox returned to the US from Liberia on October 24, landing at Newark International Airport
US officials are at odds over whether American healthcare workers who return from treating Ebola patients in West Africa should be forced into quarantine until that period has expired.
New Jersey and other states had put quarantine rules into place after a New York doctor who treated Ebola patients in West Africa came down with the disease.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) merely recommends daily monitoring of returned health workers, rather than enforced isolation.
President Barack Obama has warned that overly restrictive measures imposed upon returning healthcare workers could discourage them from volunteering in Africa.
“We know that the best way to protect Americans ultimately is going to stop this outbreak at the source,” he said on October 29 .
Kaci Hickox returned to the US on October 24, landing at Newark International Airport.
Officials say she had a minor fever, necessitating a quarantine at a Newark, New Jersey, hospital.
Kaci Hickox contested the quarantine regimen, ultimately threatening legal action.
After showing no fever or other symptoms for a 24-hour period, Kaci Hickox was discharged and brought to her home state of Maine.
“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” she told reporters on Wednesday evening.
On Thursday morning, Kaci Hickox left her home on a bicycle, followed by police officers who monitoring her movements and public interactions. She returned home shortly after.
Without a court order, the police were barred from detaining her.
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Nurse Kaci Hickox, who was quarantined in New Jersey after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, will be discharged after threatening legal action over her confinement.
Kaci Hickox said she was made to feel like a criminal after returning to the US on October 24.
She is free of symptoms and will be flown privately to her home state of Maine, New Jersey officials said.
The White House and mayor of New York have expressed concerns over new strict quarantine orders in several US states.
The new rules in New York, New Jersey and Illinois require a mandatory 21-day quarantine for all health workers who have had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa upon their return to the US.
The measures were announced after a New York doctor who had treated patients in Guinea fell ill with Ebola last week.
Amid criticism the quarantine rules were overly strict, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo eased the state’s restrictions on October 26.
Nurse Kaci Hickox was quarantined in New Jersey after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone
Now, returning health workers who have displayed no symptoms will be allowed to pass the quarantine period in their homes, will be allowed contact with their families and friends, and will be monitored twice daily. Compensation will be offered for lost earnings.
More than 10,000 people have contracted the Ebola virus, with 4,922 deaths, according to the World Health Organization’s latest figures.
All but 27 of the cases have occurred inside Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Separately on October 27, a five-year-old boy was being tested for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital in New York City after visiting an Ebola-stricken country and developing a fever, hospital officials said. Test results were expected later in the day.
In a statement, the New Jersey health department said Kaci Hickox had tested negative for Ebola on Saturday and had been free of symptoms for 24 hours.
Kaci Hickox arrived at Newark Airport on October 24 and was placed in isolation after developing a fever, the health department said.
“She was cared for in a monitored area of the hospital with an advanced tenting system that was recently toured and evaluated by the CDC.
“While in isolation, every effort was made to insure that she remained comfortable with access to a computer, cell phone, reading material and nourishment of choice.”
Over the weekend, Kaci Hickox, of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said she underwent hours of questioning at the airport before being transferred to a hospital isolation tent outside University Hospital in Newark.
She described the experience as “frightening” and a “frenzy of disorganization”.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had defended the state’s quarantine requirements.
Kaci Wilcox’s lawyer Norman Siegel said her isolation raised civil liberty issues given that she had displayed no Ebola symptoms and did not test positive for the virus.
“We’re not going to dispute that the government has, under certain circumstances, the right to issue a quarantine,” he said, adding that “the policy is overly broad when applied to her”.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has described Kaci Hickox as a “returning hero”, but said that she had been “treated with disrespect” when put into quarantine.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are seeking 132 people who flew on a plane with a Texas nurse on the day before she came down with symptoms of Ebola.
The nurse, the second person to catch Ebola in the US, became ill on October 14.
Both she and nurse Nina Pham, 26, had treated Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on October 8, in Dallas.
Meanwhile, the UN’s Ebola mission chief says the world is falling behind in the race to contain the virus, which has killed more than 4,000 in West Africa.
On October 15, the CDC said it wanted to interview the passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas on October 13.
It said it was taking the measure “because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning”.
The CDC officials are seeking 132 people who flew on a plane with a Texas nurse on the day before she came down with symptoms of Ebola
Both the newly diagnosed nurse, who has yet to be identified, and Nina Pham treated Thomas Eric Duncan early in his stay at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas when he had “extensive production of body fluids”, CDC director Tom Frieden told reporters on Wednesday.
The second nurse flew to Cleveland on 10 October, even though she had had “extensive contact” with Thomas Eric Duncan and was being monitored for signs of Ebola and therefore should not have flown on a commercial aeroplane, Dr. Tom Frieden said.
Nina Pham subsequently became ill and was diagnosed with Ebola. When the second nurse returned from Ohio on Monday evening, she was not showing symptoms of the disease, the crew has told CDC investigators.
Health experts say people who are not showing symptoms are not contagious.
“We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement,” Dr. Tom Frieden said, meaning, for example, in chartered flights or ambulances.
On the morning of October 14, the second nurse came down with a fever and was isolated within 90 minutes. Her diagnosis was announced early on October 15.
One of the ill women is to be transferred to Emory University hospital in Atlanta, which oversaw the recovery of two US aid workers who had caught the disease in Africa.