New York doctor now free of Ebola discharged from hospital

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A doctor who contracted Ebola was discharged from a hospital on Tuesday after weeks of isolation treatment for the virus and was cheered by New Yorkers from City Hall to the Harlem apartment building where he lives.

The release of Dr Craig Spencer, 33, who worked with Ebola patients in Guinea and had been held at Bellevue Hospital Centre since he was diagnosed with the virus on Oct 23, will mean no one in the United States is being treated for the disease, according to media reports.

Spencer appeared at a news conference Tuesday morning, standing alongside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"It's a very, very good day," de Blasio said. "New York City's first and only Ebola case successfully treated. Dr Spencer is Ebola-free and New York City is Ebola-free."

Spencer, who travelled to West Africa with Doctors Without Borders, was joined by other city officials and Bellevue staff, the hospital said.

Spencer's diagnosis followed trips on the subway to eat out and go bowling with friends, provoking public alarm about the possible spread of the virus in the city.

Neighbours who have not seen Spencer since he was hospitalised three weeks ago said they were happy to hear he may be headed home soon.

"I'm glad to hear he's well enough for that to happen," one woman told NY1 television. "The building's been through a lot and I'm sure they have been through more," she said, referring to Spencer's fiancee, who was quarantined in the apartment until recently.

Ebola has killed more than 4,950 people since it broke out in West Africa earlier this year, according to the World Health Organisation. The bulk of the cases and deaths have come in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

In North Carolina, health officials said on Monday a missionary, Dr John Fankhauser, 52, of Ventura, California, was deemed to be at "some risk" for developing the disease after returning from Liberia and had been placed under a 21-day quarantine.

There has been only one Ebola death in the United States - Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted the disease in his native Liberia and died in Dallas, where he had gone to visit.

Medical experts say Ebola can be transmitted only through the bodily fluid of a person who is exhibiting symptoms.