Ebola Today: R.I. Cameraman Tests Negative for Ebola; Texas Nurse in Good Condition at NIH

NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo who contracted Ebola in Liberia, is shown in this family photo released on October 6, 2014. Mukpo was the fifth American to contract Ebola in West Africa.
NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo who contracted Ebola in Liberia, is shown in this family photo released on October 6, 2014. Mukpo was the fifth American to contract Ebola in West Africa. –REUTERS

6:47 p.m. ET: Nebraska Med Center: 2 / Ebola: 0.

Ashoka Mukpo, the freelance cameraman who contracted Ebola covering the outbreak for NBC News in Liberia, tweeted Tuesday that he officially tested negative for the Ebola virus for the third day in a row.

Mukpo has been receiving treatment at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., since Oct. 6. The hospital confirmed Tuesday evening that Mukpo is officially Ebola-free and is expected to be released Wednesday.

6:20 p.m. ET: Upgrade! Nina Pham, the 26-year-old nurse who first contracted Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, has been upgraded to “good’’ condition from “fair, stable’’ according to a statement from NIH. Pham was transferred to the National Institutes of Health Special Clinical Studies Unit in Bethesda, Md. on Thursday, Oct. 16. When she first arrived at NIH, physicians in charge of her care team evaluated her and downgraded her condition from “good’’ when she left Texas Health to “fair, stable.’’ Her clinical status seems to have recovered to its previous level.

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5:34 p.m. ET: Hey, Ebola. Don’t mess with Texas. Texas Governor Rick Perry announced the opening of two new biocontainment treatment centers for Ebola in Galveston, Texas today.

“The goal of these facilities is to rival the most advanced facilities in the world,’’ Gov. Perry said Tuesday at a news conference at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Perry said the two new facilities will be administered by UT Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Although it will be staffed by UT Southwestern personnel, the building will be housed at Methodist Health System’s continuing care facility in Richardson.

Like Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., and Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., the new Texas facilities are fully contained and prepared to take new Ebola patients within the next 24 hours if needed, Dr. Sam Bagchi, chief medical information officer for Methodist Health System, told The Dallas Morning News.

Perry said that he hopes this will take the pressure off of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which has been on the frontline of the US Ebola cases so far.

“As the first U.S. hospital to face the challenge of both diagnosing and treating Ebola patients, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas will continue to share our learnings with health officials at all levels of government, our fellow hospitals and the broader health care community,’’ said Texas Health Presbyterian spokesperson Wendell Watson in a statement. “A coordinated response is in all our best interests, and we remain active participants in discussions to advance the shared goal of defeating this insidious disease.’’

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3:16 p.m. ET: Tweeting the record straight from isolation. Ashoka Mukpo, the freelance cameraman who is on the road to recovery from Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, has been taking to his Twitter handle @unkyoka throughout his battle with the Ebola virus. His tweets over the past few weeks have ranged from providing updates about his condition to setting the record straight about his work and the team covering the outbreak in Monrovia, Liberia.

Mukpo’s Tweets today also shed some interesting light on who, where, and when he may have exposed others to Ebola. He specifically addresses his interactions with his colleague at NBC News, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, whose career in media and in medicine is being evaluated because she violated a self-imposed quarantine.

12:39 p.m. ET: Run on rubber. Manufacturers and distributors of full-body gowns and suits are struggling to meet hospital demands for personal protective equipment (PPE), the Associated Press reports. The gear is made of material that does not absorb fluids, so it’s in high demand for battling the Ebola virus. According to a survey by the Associated Press, 100 of 102 hospitals surveyed have protective gear that provides full-body coverage. Only 10 said their equipment leaves a portion of skin exposed.

12:16 p.m. ET:You might need to reroute your trip to/from W. Africa. The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that travelers flying to the United States from West Africa must fly into the five airports at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began to implement screenings last week.

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If you’re flying from these countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea

You have to land in these US airports: New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta, Chicago

These airports receive 94 percent of travelers from the affected West African countries, according to DHS. Additional screenings will involve passengers having their temperatures taken and other protocols that weren’t immediately available to the media.

“We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption,’’ DHS Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson said in a statement. “If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed.’’

11:19 a.m. ET:RIP Excalibur. The Spanish nursing assistant in a Madrid hospital who contracted the Ebola virus on Oct. 6 has officially recovered, according to the Associated Press. Teresa Romero, 44, was the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa in this year’s outbreak. Her case made big headlines last week when Romero’s pet dog, Excalibur, was put down by Spanish health officials due to contamination risk.

11:10 a.m. ET: Vaccines on the way: Experimental Ebola vaccines could begin “real world’’ testing in West Africa by January, providing those vaccines are determined to be safe, according to a top World Health Organization official.

According to an Associated Press report, if the vaccines are found to be safe, they would be tested for effectiveness among tens of thousands of people.

7:16 a.m. ET:Head, shoulders, knees, toes, and everything in between. Federal officials want health care workers treating Ebola patients to be covered from head to toe.

Officials released new guidelines Monday night, which health workers have been calling for since two Dallas nurses became infected while caring for an Ebola patient, according to The Associated Press.

The new guidelines call for full-body garb and hoods to protect workers’ necks. They also set new rules for removing equipment and disinfecting hands. The guidelines also call for a site manager to supervise whenever workers put on or take off equipment.

The latest numbers:

Number of cases worldwide in the current outbreak: 9,216

Number of deaths: 4,555

Countries currently affected by Ebola: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States of America.

Countries where the outbreak has ended: Nigeria, Senegal

And here’s your daily reminder not to panic:

The likelihood of contracting Ebola in Massachusetts remains very low, according to the state’s public health officials. You have to be in direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids while they are contagious (displaying symptoms of Ebola). Even if someone has been exposed, symptoms may appear in as little as two days, and in as many as 21 days, after exposure. The CDC says the average is 8 to 10 days.

Ebola symptoms:

– Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)

– Severe headache

– Muscle pain

– Weakness

– Diarrhea

– Vomiting

– Abdominal (stomach) pain

– Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Need more details? Here’s an MGH physician dropping some knowledge for you.

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