ATLANTA, Ga. (CNN) — Two Americans, who contracted the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa while helping fight its largest outbreak in recorded history, was released from Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital.
Nancy Writebol, an aid worker in Liberia, was released from the hospital on Tuesday.
Dr. Kent Brantly was released on Thursday.
“I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family,” said Dr. Brantly at a news conference on Thursday.
After weeks of treatment, both of their blood tests came back negative for the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control released the following statement, “They no longer have Ebola virus in their blood and therefore pose no risk to household contacts or the public. There are no restrictions to the patients’ activities of daily living.”
“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,” Dr. Bruce Ribner, the director of Emory’s infectious disease unit, said.
Dr. 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.
The plane was able to take only one patient at a time and made two trips to get them both.
The two Americans were taken to an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital.
Both patients were able to walk when they arrived, stepping out of the ambulance on foot, dressed in biohazard suits.
For Brantly to leave isolation, two blood tests done in a two-day period had to come back negative.
The Ebola virus spreads via direct contact with bodily fluids, like blood, sweat and feces.
Brantly and Writebol are no longer infectious.
There is a slight possibility that the virus could linger for up to three months in his semen, according to the World Health Organization.
The virus has no known cure, and left untreated, infections can be deadly in up to 90 percent of cases.
Nearly half the patients receiving medical care in the current outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea are surviving.
Treatment consists of giving fluids, monitoring vital signs and responding to acute medical crises.
Symptoms include fever, aches, diarrhea and bleeding.
Brantly and Writebol also received an experimental drug called ZMapp, which was also given to three healthcare workers in Liberia.
They appear to be recovering as well.
Fears of U.S. outbreak
Brantly and Writebol were the first known people infected with Ebola to enter the United States.
Their arrival triggered a surge of angst on social media from people afraid the patients could spread the virus.
But experts have said that additional infected people could cross U.S. borders by happenstance, given the proliferation of international air travel and the enormity of the current outbreak.
But they have dismissed the notion that infection could spread significantly in the country, thus turning into an outbreak.
More than 1,350 people have died in the West African Ebola outbreak since the first cases drew attention in March, the WHO said on Wednesday.
Aid workers are fighting an uphill battle to stop the disease, as it continues to spread. Financial and human resources have been stretched.
An emergency research “all call” was issued Thursday by medical charity Wellcome Trust and United Kingdom’s Department for International Development to find a drug to stop the outbreak.
They are making $10.8 million available to fund research. Wellcome Trust is committing another $66.5 million to the development of health research scientists in Africa, who are studying many deadly diseases there.
Canada’s public health agency had 800 to 1,000 doses of a vaccine known as VSV-EBOV delivered to health officials in Liberia last week.
Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, which produces ZMapp, said it has sent its entire stock of the experimental drug overseas to fight the outbreak.