US doctor with Ebola improves, nurse’s quarantined dog released

The only person in the United States currently being treated for Ebola was upgraded to stable condition.

New York residents are fearing the deadly Ebola virus will spread in the city after a doctor contracted the disease. Picture: Supplied/EWN

REUTERS - The only person in the United States currently being treated for Ebola was upgraded to stable condition on Saturday and a Dallas nurse who recovered from the disease was reunited with her dog which had been kept in quarantine as a precaution.

In New York City, the condition of Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, who has been in an isolation unit at the city's Bellevue hospital since 23 October, has improved to "stable" from "serious but stable," hospital officials said.

Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola, which is known to have killed almost 5,000 people in west Africa, several days after returning to New York from Guinea where he had worked with Ebola patients.

Fears of a spread of the disease in the United States were highlighted by public attention to the case of nurse Nina Pham, whose dog was put into quarantine when she contracted Ebola from a Liberian patient she was treating in a Dallas hospital.

Pham, 26, who was declared free of the virus on 24 October, hugged her dog, a King Charles Spaniel called Bentley, after its release from three weeks quarantine. Bentley's fate aroused public interest after officials in Madrid put down the dog of a Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a patient.

"After I was diagnosed with Ebola, I didn't know what would happen to Bentley and if he would have the virus," Pham told reporters at a Dallas animal shelter. "I was frightened that I might not know what happened to my best friend."


Medical professionals say Ebola is difficult to catch and is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person and is not transmitted by asymptomatic people.

US states and federal health officials have issued a plethora of differing protocols for those considered at risk of developing the infection.

In the latest case, an Oregon woman with a high temperature was hospitalised in an isolation unit on Friday for a possible Ebola infection after returning from West Africa, Oregon health officials said. She had not come into known contact with Ebola patients while in Africa, the officials added.

In the biggest tussle so far over Ebola measures, a Maine judge on Friday rejected a state request to quarantine non-infectious nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned home from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and fought a public battle against being confined for 21 days.

The Hickox case highlighted the dilemma in the United States over how to balance public health needs and personal liberty. Canada and Australia have both barred entry for citizens from three West African countries where the disease is widespread.

The most deadly outbreak of the disease on record has focused, with only a handful of exceptions, on Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

US public health experts, the United Nations, federal officials and President Barack Obama have expressed concern that state quarantines for returning doctors and nurses could discourage potential medical volunteers from fighting the outbreak at its source in West Africa.

On Friday the Pentagon said that civilian US defense employees returning from Ebola relief work in West Africa must undergo monitoring to ensure they are free of disease but can choose between following civil health guidelines or the stricter military regimen.