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Dallas nurse Nina Pham is now Ebola-free, NIH says

Last Updated Oct 24, 2014 2:00 PM EDT

BETHESDA, Md. --- A nurse who caught Ebola while caring for the patient diagnosed in Dallas was released from a hospital Friday, free of the virus.

Nurse Nina Pham said she felt "fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," as she left the National Institutes of Health's hospital outside Washington.

She thanked her health care team in Dallas and at the NIH and singled out fellow Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who recovered after becoming infected in Liberia, for his "selfless act of donating plasma" containing Ebola-fighting antibodies as part of her care.

"Although I no longer have Ebola, I know it may be a while before I have my strength back," Pham, 26, said at a news conference. Doctors have cleared her to return home to Texas.

Pham also asked for privacy as she prepares to go home to Texas, where she says she is looking forward to reuniting with her dog, Bentley.

Pham later met with President Barack Obama at the White House.

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President Barack Obama hugs Dallas nurse Nina Pham at the Oval Office in Washington, October 24, 2014.
Reuters

Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the NIH, gave Pham a hug and told reporters that five consecutive tests showed no virus left in her blood. Five tests is way beyond the norm, he stressed, but his team did extra testing because the NIH is a research hospital.

"She is cured of Ebola, let's get that clear," Fauci said.

Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She had been flown there from Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Pham is one of two nurses in Dallas who became infected with Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the virus Oct. 8.

The second nurse, Amber Vinson, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which on Friday issued a statement saying she "is making good progress" and that tests no longer detect virus in her blood. But Emory said it had no discharge date for Vinson yet, as she continues to receive supportive care.