High rate of survival for Ebola patients in US and Europe

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio walks with Dr. Craig Spencer (centre) as he is discharged from Bellevue Hospital, after being declared free of the Ebola virus, in New York Nov 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio walks with Dr. Craig Spencer (centre) as he is discharged from Bellevue Hospital, after being declared free of the Ebola virus, in New York Nov 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

With the discharge of New York doctor Craig Spencer on Tuesday, there are now no patients in the United States being treated for the deadly Ebola disease.

Dr Spencer, 33, contracted the virus while working with Ebola patients in Guinea and was treated at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York.

Of the nine patients treated in the US, eight have beaten the disease, in contrast with a more than 50 per cent mortality rate in West Africa where the disease has killed close to 5,000.

Most Ebola survivors outside Africa are aid workers or healthcare workers who treated Ebola patients either in West Africa or in their home country.

They were treated in superior healthcare facilities and had access to experimental drugs, leading to their recovery and busting the myth that getting Ebola is a virtual death sentence.

Here are some of the other survivors:

UNITED STATES

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Nina Pham, 26, is a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she helped treat Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan. She was diagnosed four days after Duncan died. On Oct 24, officials declared Pham free of the virus and she is released from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where she had been treated since Oct 16. She and other US patients have been treated in high-level biocontainment units.

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Amber Vinson, a 29-year-old nurse at the same hospital who treated Duncan, also tested positive for the virus. She was released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Oct 28. Vinson flew from Ohio to Dallas the day before reporting symptoms, raising concerns about possible spread of the disease, which someone can get through contact with bodily fluids. Ohio has not reported any case of Ebola.

Ashoka Mukpo, 33, an American freelance television cameraman working for NBC News in Liberia, was flown out of the country for treatment at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Mukpo was declared free of the virus on Oct 21 and left the hospital the next day.

"Recovering from Ebola is a truly humbling feeling. Too many are not as fortunate and lucky as I've been. I'm very happy to be alive," he said in a Twitter post this week.

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Three Americans contracted Ebola while working for Christian missionary organisations in Liberia and were flown to the United States for treatment. All have recovered. Nancy Writebol contracted the virus in July while working for a SIM USA hospital with her husband, David, who was not infected. She was treated at Emory and discharged on Aug 19.

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Kent Brantly was the first American with Ebola to be flown back for treatment, and the first to use experimental drug ZMapp. He contracted Ebola while working for Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse, and was released on Aug 21.

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Rick Sacra, a Boston physician who was working for SIM USA, arrived in the United States on Sept 5 and was treated for three weeks at Nebraska Medical Center.

An unidentified American who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone began treatment at Emory University Hospital on Sept 9. The patient, who has asked to remain anonymous, was discharged on Oct 19, the university said.

SPAIN

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Maria Teresa Romero Ramos, 44, was declared free of the virus last week, a month after she tested positive for Ebola on Oct 6. The nurse's aide was infected while caring for two Spanish missionaries who caught the disease in Africa and died in Madrid.She was treated with an experimental anti-viral drug, Favipiravir, as well as with plasma from a patient who had survived Ebola.

Without being able to compare the results of Romero's treatment with those of other Ebola patients, "we cannot say what cured Teresa," said Dr Marta Arsuaga, part of the team that treated her

BRITAIN

British nurse Will Pooley, 29, is back in Sierra Leone, two months after making a full recovery from Ebola in September. The first and as yet only British person to contract Ebola, he works for Britain's King's Health Partners. He was airlifted back and treated in a in a state-of-the-art ward at the Royal Free hospital in London where he more than a dozen health workers tended to him.

He said of the difference in his treatment and that in Sierra Leone: "Here it's the reverse; there are more patients than healthcare workers."

FRANCE

An unidentified French nurse who contracted Ebola while working with patients as a volunteer with Doctors without Borders (MSF) in Liberia was cured in early October. She was given the antiviral medicine Agivan or favipiravir.

NORWAY

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Norwegian doctor Silje Lehne Michalsen left the Ulleval Hospital in Oslo on Oct 20, having recovered from Ebola after contracting it on her first field job for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone.

chuimin@sph.com.sg

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg, New York Times, The Guardian, World Health Organization website