UPDATE 1-Third Ebola patient treated in the U.S. free from virus - doctors

Thu Sep 25, 2014 1:32pm EDT
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(Adds comments from press conference, byline)

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The third U.S. patient to be treated in the United States for Ebola is now free of the virus, doctors at the Nebraska Medical Center and the patient said in a news conference on Thursday.

"The CDC has declared me safe and free of virus. Thank God. I love you all," Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, a Boston obstetrician who contracted Ebola while treating patients as a medical missionary at a hospital in Liberia, told a news conference.

Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the biocontainment unit at the medical center, said the CDC confirmed that two separate blood samples taken from Sacra 24 hours apart show the virus is no longer in his bloodstream.

Sacra thanked the doctors and nurses who cared for him over the past three weeks. In a news conference, he joked that when he learned he was being flown to the Midwestern state better known for corn crops than medical care, he recalls saying, "Wow, Nebraska. Who made that decision?"

But Sacra gushed about the care he received. "They are not only terrific medically but they are awesome in the bedside nursing and patient care," he said.

Sacra was treated with an experimental drug called TKM-Ebola made by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp , and also received a "convalescent serum" made up of antibodies taken from the blood of U.S. Ebola survivor and fellow missionary Dr. Kent Brantly.

But Sacra's doctors said there was too little data to determine whether the drug contributed to his recovery.   Continued...