NEW YORK, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Craig Spencer, the New York physician who became ill with Ebola after returning from treating patients in West Africa last month, was released from Bellevue Hospital Friday.
Nineteen days after he was rushed to the hospital with a 100.3-degree fever, Spencer, 33, was greeted with hugs from his medical team and Mayor Bill de Blasio as he left, cured.
"Today I am healthy and no longer infectious," Spencer told the crowd gathered in the lobby.
Spencer worked in Gueckedou, Guinea, for five weeks with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). He became ill shortly after returning to New York, setting off concerns of a public health crisis.
"Dr. Spencer is Ebola free and New York City is Ebola free," de Blaso said, hugging Spencer.
"It is a good feeling to hug a hero," he said. "And we have a hero in our midst."
But Spencer tried to shift the attention from himself, and to the 13,000 people who have been stricken with the disease in West Africa and the effectiveness of protocols put in place in the U.S.
"My recovery from Ebola speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols in place for health staff returning from West Africa at the time of my infection," he said. "I am a living example of how those protocols work, and of how early detection and isolation is critical to both surviving Ebola and ensuring that it is not transmitted to others."
With Spencer's recovery, no cases of Ebola remain in the United States. His fiancee remains in quarantine until Friday, and two other friends are undergoing direct monitoring. Some 100 medical staff who cared for Spencer while at Bellevue will be monitored for 21 days.
Only four people have developed symptoms of Ebola while in the U.S.: Spencer and Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who became ill and died in Texas after traveling from Africa, along with Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, two nurses who treated Duncan in Dallas.