OMAHA, Neb. -- The third American aid worker who contracted Ebola in Africa was released Thursday from a Nebraska hospital.
An elated Dr. Rick Sacra said at a news conference that he was cleared of the Ebola virus by the federal Centers from Disease Control and left the isolation unit at the Nebraska Medical Center on Thursday morning.
"I feel great, except that I am extremely weak," Sacra said.
The 51-year-old doctor from Worcester, Massachusetts, may return to Africa someday to help, but he said he expects a long recovery ahead based on what his friend and fellow Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly said.
"I never felt like I was not going to make it. The care was so excellent, so speedy and so prompt," said Sacra, who contracted Ebola while working at a hospital in Liberia with the North Carolina-based charity SIM and arrived in Omaha on Sept. 5.
The World Health Organization says the Ebola virus is believed to have killed more than 2,900 people in West Africa. Governments are scrambling to contain the disease outbreak, and the United States has promised to send 3,000 soldiers to the region to help.
"Though my crisis has reached a successful end here, unfortunately the Ebola crisis continues to burn out of control in West Africa," Sacra said, adding later that the "odds I'll end up back (in Liberia) are pretty high."
Two other American doctors who contracted Ebola - including Brantly - were treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, and were released after recovering. A fourth American with Ebola is still being treated in Atlanta.
Dr. Phil Smith has said Sacra received an experimental Tekmira Pharmaceuticals drug called TKM-Ebola for a week after he arrived in Omaha. Sacra also received two blood transfusions from Brantly. These blood transfusions are believed to help a patient fight off the Ebola virus because the survivor's blood carries antibodies for the disease.
Sacra also received supportive care including IV fluids and aggressive electrolyte management, and his own immune system fought the virus.
Doctors have said that the combination of treatments Sacra received makes it difficult to know what helped him fight off Ebola.