Texas Will Be Officially Ebola-Free By The End Of The Day

Patient Nina Pham, center, with her mother Diana Berry, right, and sister Cathy Pham, left,  and members of the NIH staff outside during a news conference at NIH in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Pham, the first nurse diagnosed with Ebola after treating an infected man at a Dallas hospital is free of the virus. The 26-year-old Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center. She had been flown there from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Patient Nina Pham, center, with her mother Diana Berry, right, and sister Cathy Pham, left, and members of the NIH staff outside during a news conference at NIH in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Pham, the first nurse diagnosed with Ebola after treating an infected man at a Dallas hospital is free of the virus. The 26-year-old Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center. She had been flown there from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Texas will be officially free of Ebola by the end of the day, as the last person connected to the state’s three Ebola patient cases finishes a 21-day monitoring period.

Twenty-one days is the maximum length of time the Ebola virus can incubate in a human being. The person, who was not named in a press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services, is a hospital worker who had handled Ebola-related medical waste on Oct. 17.

“We’re happy to reach this milestone, but our guard stays up,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services in the statement. “We reached this point through teamwork and meticulous monitoring, and we’ll continue to be vigilant to protect Texas from Ebola.”

Thomas Eric Duncan, a visitor from Liberia, was the first person in Texas to be diagnosed with Ebola after an ambulance brought him in critical condition to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28. Soon after Duncan’s death on Oct. 8, nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who had cared for Duncan and been monitoring their symptoms, were diagnosed with Ebola. Both Pham and Vinson survived the virus.

"We are grateful that two caregivers who shared the fight against this insidious virus are healthy,” wrote Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health Resources in a statement celebrating the end of the monitoring period. "These two courageous nurses, and so many others, put the needs of a patient first and valiantly worked to save the life of a man who faced, and ultimately lost, his battle with this disease. Today we remember and honor him, and his family remains in our hearts and prayers."

Public health authorities were monitoring a total of 177 people who had come into contact with either Duncan, Pham or Vinson, their specimens or Ebola-related medical waste. In an unrelated case, authorities are still monitoring one nurse in Central Texas, who just arrived in the state after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She is at "some risk" for contracting Ebola, according to public health authorities, and has agreed to stay in her house for 21 days until the incubation period is over.

There is still at least one Ebola patient under U.S. care. Dr. Craig Spencer, who went to Guinea on a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières mission, is receiving treatment at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Spencer is continually improving, according to the most recent joint statement from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, but remains in isolation.

As the number of Ebola patients and actively monitored individuals wanes in the U.S., so too are Ebola-related fears, according to a new HealthDay/Harris Poll. The online poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults between Oct. 28 and Oct. 30. Forty-nine percent of those polled consider Ebola a “moderate” or “major” public health threat to Americans, down from 55 percent who responded similarly in a HealthDay/Harris Poll from the first week of October, a few days after Duncan had been diagnosed with Ebola.

James and Tamah Mulbah
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Ebola survivor James Mulbah, 2, stands with his mother, Tamah Mulbah, 28, who also recovered from Ebola in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center, after a survivors' meeting on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia.
Benetha Coleman
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Ebola survivor Benetha Coleman, 24, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center after attending a survivors' meeting on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. She said that her husband and two children died due to the disease.
Jeremra Cooper
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Ebola survivor Jeremra Cooper, 16, wipes his face from the heat while in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The 8th grade student said he lost six family members to the Ebola epidemic before coming down sick with the disease himself and being sent to the MSF center, where he recovered after one month.
Zaizay Mulbah and Mark Jerry
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Ebola survivors Zaizay Mulbah, 34, and Mark Jerry, 30, right, stand together before their shifts as nurse's assistants at the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 12, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. Jerry was a money changer and Mulbah a delivery driver before they caught the disease and went to the center, where they recovered. Doctors Without Borders hired them afterward to counsel and comfort others stricken by the disease.
Eric Forkpa
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Ebola survivor Eric Forkpa, 23, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center after meeting with fellow survivors on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The college student, who is majoring in civil engineering, said he thinks he caught Ebola while caring for his sick uncle, who died of the disease. He spent 18 days at the center recovering from the virus.
Emanuel Jolo
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Ebola survivor Emanuel Jolo, 19, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center after a survivors' meeting on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The high school student lost six family members and believes he caught the disease while washing the body of his father, who died of Ebola.
Sontay Massaley
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Ebola survivor Sontay Massaley, 37, smiles upon her release from the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 12, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. Massaley, who spent 8 days recovering from the disease in the center, said she worked as a vendor in a market before contracting the virus.
Victoria Masah
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Ebola survivor Victoria Masah, 28, stands in the low-risk section of the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 16, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. She said her husband and two children died of Ebola.
Abrahim Quota
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Ebola survivor Abrahim Quota, 5, stands outside the JFK Ebola treatment center after recovering from the disease on October 13, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. He had arrived at the treatment center 10 days before with his parents, who both died there from the virus. The Ministry of Health was to deliver him home after his release to live with relatives.
Lassana Jabeteh
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Ebola survivor Lassana Jabeteh, 36, smiles before his shift as a nurse's assistant at the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on October 12, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. He said that he previously worked as a taxi driver and that he thinks he caught Ebola when he transported a sick policeman who vomited in his car on the way to the hospital. Doctors Without Borders hired Jabeteh after he recovered in their treatment center and he now counsels and comforts others stricken by the disease.