Spain: Nursing assistant clear of Ebola virus

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MADRID — An initial test shows that a nursing assistant who became infected with Ebola in Spain is now clear of all traces of the virus nearly two weeks after she was hospitalized, authorities said Sunday.

Teresa Romero, 44, is the first person known to have contracted the disease outside West Africa in the current outbreak when she tested positive for the virus Oct. 6. She has been in quarantine at Carlos III hospital in Madrid since then.

A statement Sunday said a blood test revealed that Romero’s immune system had eliminated the virus from her body. The statement came from the Spanish government committee in charge of the nation’s Ebola crisis. A second test in the coming hours is needed to absolutely confirm Romero’s recovery, said Manuel Cuenca, microbiology director at Madrid’s Carlos III health care complex.

Romero had treated two patients who died of Ebola at Carlos III hospital. The first, Miguel Pajares, contracted the disease in Liberia and died on Aug. 12 despite having been treated with the experimental drug ZMapp. The second was Manuel Garcia Viejo who died, aged 69, on Sept. 25.

Health authorities quarantined Romero’s husband and euthanized Romero’s pet dog named Excalibur on Oct. 8 instead of placing it in quarantine, creating outrage among animal rights activists.

Spain, meanwhile, has agreed to allow the U.S. to use two military bases in the southwest of the country to support its efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

A Defense Ministry statement said the deal permits U.S. armed forces to use the air base at Moron de la Frontera near Seville and the naval station at Rota on Spain’s Atlantic coast to transport personnel and materials to and from Africa. Defense Minister Pedro Morenes sealed the deal with U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel in Washington.

The ministry statement, released late Saturday, said the agreement will be reviewed and updated on a case-by-case basis and would also permit U.S. forces to use the bases against IS militants. The U.S. has made use of the bases since the 1950s.

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