Fourth Ebola Patient in Recovery

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By Rupsha Basu

News Editor

The second Dallas nurse to contract the Ebola virus — and the fourth patient that has been treated at Emory University Hospital (EUH) — is now free of the virus and is scheduled to be released after recovery, according to an Emory Healthcare announcement on Friday afternoon (Oct. 23).

The nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, arrived at EUH on Oct. 15 at approximately 8:30 p.m. for treatment in the same isolation unit as Dr. Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol and a third unidentified patient.

As reported in an Aug. 29 Wheel article, Emory’s isolation unit is physically separate from the rest of the hospital community and is run by a team highly trained in specific and unique protocols and procedures necessary to treat Ebola patients.

“Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases,” Associate Vice President of Communications Vince Dollard wrote in a July 31 all-Emory email.

The Wheel reported that Brantly and Writebol were released in late August. The third patient, unidentified for confidentiality reasons, was discharged from the hospital on Oct. 19 and posed “no public health threat,” according to an Oct. 19 University press release.

CBS News, National Public Radio (NPR) and other news media outlets reported on Friday afternoon that a statement released by Vinson’s family stated that she did not show signs of the virus before EUH had released a statement about her condition later that day.

“Officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] are no longer able to detect the virus in her body,” Vinson’s family said in the statement.

Vinson contracted the disease in Dallas while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the virus on Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. EUH’s Friday statement only revealed that Vinson is “making good progress.”

“Emory University Hospital physicians, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are pleased to report that Amber Vinson is making good progress in her treatment for Ebola virus infection,” EUH’s statement reads. Tests no longer detect virus in her blood. She remains within Emory’s Serious Communicable Diseases Unit for continued supportive care. We do not have a discharge date at this time.”

According to Senior Communications Officer in the Office of University Media Relations Beverly Clark on behalf of the EUH Communications team, EUH does not have a statement regarding Vinson’s potential release date. Clark added that EUH will continue to care for Vinson.

These announcements coincided with the news that Nina Pham, the first nurse to contract the virus in Dallas, also showed no signs of the Ebola virus. Reports from Texas Presbyterian and health care officials indicated that Vinson and Pham contracted the virus due to lack of appropriate protective gear.

These reports were followed by a website EUH launched that outlines protocols for dealing with patients infected with Ebola.

According to the most recent World Health Organization numbers, the number of people infected has exceeded 10,000, and the virus has killed over close to 5,000 people.

Transmission of the virus comes from “direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person or exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions,” according to the CDC website on Ebola.

— Contact Rupsha Basu at [email protected]

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