Sun, Nov 09, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Dallas marks Ebola end with relief, Bush ‘selfies’

ALL CLEAR:Former US president George W. Bush visited the Dallas hospital which treated Ebola patients, after the final check of 177 people who were at risk of the disease

Reuters, DALLAS

A relieved Dallas on Friday received the US government’s all-clear from Ebola, and former US president George W. Bush marked the event by visiting the hospital that was at the center of fighting the virus and the origin of a US scare over the disease.

“It’s official,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a tweet announcing the final monitoring check on Friday evening of the last of 177 people who had been considered at risk of catching the virus.

“No symptoms. We are happy to close this Ebola chapter with Dallas tonight,” the department said.

The announcement came four hours after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, as of Friday, 176 of the 177 people in Texas it had been checking for possible Ebola exposure had been cleared. They had been monitored for Ebola symptoms for 21 days, the disease’s maximum incubation period. Ebola causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding.

The Texas city’s Ebola worries began on Sept. 30, when a visiting Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, was taken by ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he was diagnosed with the disease.

The first case of the virus on US soil, in the middle of an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 4,950 people in three poor west African countries, prompted questions about whether the US government was doing enough to prevent the disease from entering the country.

“The last five weeks have been a trying time for the city and residents of Dallas and especially the people of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas,” Bush told hospital staff.

The former president, who lives a few kilometers from the hospital, hugged now-Ebola-free nurse Amber Vinson, who contracted the virus after treating Duncan. He also posed for “selfies” with staff at the medical facility, where he himself has undergone care.

No one else in Texas has contracted Ebola since nurses Nina Pham and Vinson became infected while caring for Duncan, who became ill while visiting relatives in Dallas. He died on Oct. 8. Both nurses eventually made a full recovery.

“Dallas is officially #Ebola free today!” Pham tweeted on Friday. “So grateful to all the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers that were involved in my care.”

Clay Jenkins, the top political official in Dallas County who was at the forefront of the region’s public health response, said the end of Ebola was like Thanksgiving coming early.

US President Barack Obama called state and local officials, including Jenkins, on Friday to express his gratitude.

Obama also extended his appreciation “to the people of Dallas, whose strength and resilience helped reassure the nation,” the White House said.

The US Ebola response became a hot-button issue in the midterm elections that ended on Tuesday, even though it killed only Duncan, one of just four infected nationwide.

Ebola, which has ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, can be caught only via bodily fluids from an infected person. It is not airborne.

This story has been viewed 1487 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top