UPDATE: Both U.S. Ebola patients surprisingly released after being cured
As one of the first two Americans to enter the United States infected with Ebola returns home on the heels of negative blood tests, we've now learned that the second patient was surprisingly already released on Tuesday.
According to CNN, "Today is a miraculous day," patient Dr. Kent Brantly said at a Thursday morning news conference at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. "I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family."
Nancy Writebol, the other patient who was released earlier this week, declined making a public statement.
"'What we learned in caring for them will help advance the world's understanding of how to treat Ebola infections and help, hopefully, to improve survival' in other parts of the world," said Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory's Infectious Disease Unit, during the same news conference, CNN details.
The hospital further assures that the release of both patients poses no risk to the public.
"Both of them [Brantly and Writebol] were evacuated from Liberia earlier this month in a plane specially equipped with an isolation tent and accompanied by medical staff outfitted in head-to-foot protective clothing," reports CNN. "The plane was able to take only one patient at a time and made two trips to get them both."
Brantly was in Liberia working with Ebola patients under faith-based charity Samaritan's Purse. Writebol is also a missionary.
"For Brantly to leave isolation, two blood tests done in a two-day period had to come back negative," further reports CNN. "The Ebola virus spreads via direct contact with bodily fluids, like blood, sweat and feces. Brantly's will no longer be infectious."
However, "There is a slight possibility that the virus could linger for up to three months in his semen, according to the World Health Organization," CNN details.
The virus has no known cure, as 90% of cases left untreated are deadly. Brantly and Writebol both received an experimental drug, ZMapp, during their treatment at Emory.
More than 1,350 people have died in the West African outbreak of Ebola since it was first reported in March.