Two American aid workers who contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in West Africa have been discharged from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the hospital said Thursday.
The hospital said in a statement that Nancy Writebol was released from the hospital Tuesday while a second patient Kent Brantly was discharged Thursday.
"After a rigorous and successful course of treatment and testing, the Emory Healthcare team has determined that both patients have recovered from the Ebola virus and can return to their families and community without concern for spreading this infection to others," said Bruce Ribner, director of Emory's Infectious Disease Unit.
Criteria for the patients' discharges were based on blood and urine diagnostic tests and standard infectious disease protocols, the hospital said.
"The Emory medical team has maintained its extensive safety procedures throughout this treatment process and is confident that the discharge of these patients poses no public health threat," it said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also stressed that there is no public health concern with the release of the two patients.
"They no longer have Ebola virus in their blood and therefore pose no risk to household contacts or the public," the CDC said in a statement. "There are no restrictions to the patients' activities of daily living."
In a televised press conference at the hospital, Brantly and his wife hugged every member of the hospital staff that helped him recover.
"Today is a miraculous day. I'm thrilled to be alive, be well and be reunited with my family," the 33-year-old doctor said.
Brantly fell ill on July 23 and was diagnosed with the Ebola Virus three days later. He was flown to Emory University Hospital for treatment on August 2. His colleague in Liberia, 59-year-old Writebol, arrived there three days later.
Brantly said he will now be going away for a period of time with his family. "After I have recovered a little more and regained some of my strength, we will look forward to sharing more of our story," he said. "But for now, we need some time together after more than a month apart."
Writebol, who also contracted Ebola in Liberia, was released from the hospital Tuesday quietly at her request, the hospital and her husband, David, said.
"Nancy is free of the virus, but the lingering effects of the battle have left her in a significantly weakened condition," David said in a statement released by SIM, the missionary group his wife worked for.
"Thus, we decided it would be best to leave the hospital privately to be able to give her the rest and recuperation she needs at this time."
SIM said in a statement that the two "have gone to an undisclosed location to rest and spend time with one another."
Both patients received an experimental treatment known as ZMapp while still in West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,300 people. Experts, however, warned that it's still unclear if their recovery is due to the ZMapp treatment.
(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2014)