Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who became the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the latest outbreak, has given an emotional account of her ordeal as she left hospital.
Teresa Romero, 44, said she had clung to memories of family when she thought she was dying and still does not know how she caught the disease.
She had treated two returning Spanish missionaries who later died.
Teresa Romero vowed to donate blood to other Ebola victims until she “ran dry”.
In her first press conference after being discharged from the Carlos III hospital, she also condemned Spanish officials for putting down her dog.
She said they had unnecessarily “executed” the mixed breed Excalibur.
On her release from hospital, Teresa Romero read a statement, saying: “When I felt I was dying I would cling to my memories, to my family and my husband, I was isolated and I did not have any contact with the exterior except with (husband) Javier by telephone.”
She said she felt the disease “did not matter to the Western world until there was an infection here”.
Teresa Romero became the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the latest outbreak (photo AFP)
She added: “I don’t know what failed, or if anything failed. I just know that I don’t hold any grudges.”
Teresa Romero recovered after being given a variety of treatments including blood plasma from survivor Paciencia Melgar.
She said that she wanted to meet the nun and “give her a big hug”.
“I can never be grateful enough,” she said.
An antiviral drug was also given to Teresa Romero but the hospital was unable to say which method had been successful.
The nurse said that if her blood helped cure another Ebola sufferer she would “repeat it again until I run dry”.
Teresa Romero also thanked the hospital staff for their support and said it would have been “impossible” to save her life without it.
Hospital chief Rafael Perez-Santamarina told reporters it was “excellent news after a very complicated month for everyone”.
Teresa Romero no longer posed a risk and could lead a normal life, said Jose Ramon Arribas, the head of the Carlos III hospital’s infectious diseases unit.
Although she would be able to return to home, she would need “time for a full recovery from a very dramatic event,” his colleague Jose Ramon Arribas added.
“The main joy is that finally it’s been possible to save someone with Ebola and more importantly a colleague,” fellow nurse Esther Bellon said.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed some 5,000 people. The vast majority of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse infected with Ebola, remembers touching her face with her gloves after treating a dying priest, a doctor in Madrid has said.
Maria Teresa Romero Ramos, 40, is the first person known to have contracted the deadly virus outside West Africa.
She had treated two Spanish missionaries who later died from Ebola.
A World Health Organization (WHO) adviser has warned that more Ebola cases can be expected among medical staff, even in developed countries.
Teresa Romero remains in quarantine in the Spanish capital along with her husband and three other people.
A fifth person, said to be a friend and colleague of Teresa Romero, was admitted on Wednesday morning with a slight fever. In all, more than 50 people in Spain are under observation.
Teresa Romero was part of a team of about 30 staff at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid looking after the missionaries when they were repatriated from West Africa.
Maria Teresa Romero Ramos is the first person known to have contracted the deadly virus outside West Africa
Miguel Pajares, 75, died on August 12 after contracting the virus in Liberia, while Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, died on September 25 after catching the disease in Sierra Leone.
New figures released by the WHO show that more than 8,000 people have now been infected with the disease and 3,879 have died. The vast majority of deaths have been in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Teresa Romero told El Pais that she might have become infected when removing her protective suit after cleaning Manuel Garcia Viejo’s room.
“I think the error was the removal of the suit,” Teresa Romero told El Pais by phone.
“I can see the moment it may have happened, but I’m not sure about it.”
Teresa Romero added that she did not have a fever on October 8 and was “doing better”.
In another development, the woman’s husband, Javier Limon, is reported to be fighting a court order to have their pet dog put down over fears it could be carrying the disease. Animal rights groups have also criticized the move, saying there is no evidence Ebola has been spread by dogs.
Meanwhile, the head of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Sierra Leone says the rest of the world is not doing enough to combat the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that more Ebola cases can be expected among medical staff – even in developed countries with modern health care systems.
The WHO adviser, Prof. Peter Piot, said he was not surprised that a Spanish nurse had contracted the disease.
The nurse, Teresa Romero, is the first person known to have contracted the deadly virus outside West Africa.
She treated two Spanish missionaries who died of Ebola in Madrid.
Teresa Romero, a 40-year-old auxiliary nurse, had been part of a team of about 30 staff at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid looking after Manuel Garcia Viejo and Miguel Pajares when they were repatriated from Sierra Leone and Liberia respectively.
She remains in quarantine in the Spanish capital along with her husband and three other people.
A fifth person was admitted on Wednesday morning with a slight fever. She is said to be a friend of Teresa Romero and, like her, an auxiliary nurse in the Carlos III Ebola care unit.
In all, more than 50 people in Spain are under observation.
Teresa Romero told El Mundo on October 8 that she had followed the correct protocol and had “no idea” how she had become infected. She said she was feeling “a little better” but was very tired.
Officials say earlier she had twice gone into Manuel Garcia Viejo’s hospital room, first to treat him and later to disinfect the room after his death.
Spanish media say neighbors of the infected nurse have been calling emergency services, asking how to protect their children after sharing lifts and public spaces.
Prof. Peter Piot is a world specialist in Ebola brought in by the WHO as a scientific adviser
Promising “total transparency”, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy appealed for calm while at the same time urging vigilance.
“Let the professionals do their work. Spain’s health system is one of the best in the world,” he told parliament on October 8.
In another development, Teresa Romero’s husband, Javier Limon, is reported to be fighting a court order to have their pet dog put down over fears that it could be carrying the disease. Animal rights groups have also criticized the move, saying there is no evidence that Ebola has been spread by dogs.
Some 3,400 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak with most of the deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
There have been nearly 7,500 confirmed Ebola infections worldwide, with officials saying the figure is likely to be much higher in reality.
WHO experts have insisted that modern hospitals with rigorous disease control measures would prevent infection – but the case of the Madrid nurse proves that is far more difficult than many thought.
Prof. Peter Piot, a world specialist in Ebola brought in by the WHO as a scientific adviser, warned that even the simplest movement, like rubbing your eyes, is a risk.
“The smallest mistake can be fatal,” he said.
“For example, a very dangerous moment is when you come out of the isolation unit you take off your protective gear, you are full of sweat and so on.”
Many of those who have died of Ebola in West Africa have been health care workers.
Meanwhile the US military is stepping up its efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Spanish authorities are investigating a hospital in Madrid after a nurse became the first person known to have contracted the deadly Ebola virus outside West Africa.
The nurse had treated two Spanish missionaries who died of the disease after being flown home from the region.
Three other people, including the nurse’s husband, have been quarantined.
The European Commission has asked Spain to explain how the nurse could have become infected.
Some 3,400 people have died in the outbreak – mostly in West Africa.
The Spanish auxiliary nurse, a 40-year-old woman who has not been named, was one of about 30 staff at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid who had been treating priests Manuel Garcia Viejo and Miguel Pajares, officials say.
Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, died at the hospital on September 25 after catching Ebola in Sierra Leone. Miguel Pajares, 75, died in August after contracting the virus in Liberia.
The nurse had twice gone into the room where Manuel Garcia Viejo had been treated, to be directly involved in his care and to disinfect the room after his death. Both times she was wearing protective clothing.
Madrid healthcare director Antonia Alemany told reporters that according to the information available: “The nurse went into the room wearing the individual protection gear and there’s no knowledge of an accidental exposure to risk.”
The Spanish nurse was one of about 30 staff at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid who had been treating priests Manuel Garcia Viejo and Miguel Pajares
Shortly afterwards the nurse went on holiday, a hospital spokesman said, but fell ill on September 30 and was admitted to Alcorcon hospital in south-west Madrid on October 5 after being tested positive for Ebola.
Early on Tuesday she was moved under police escort to Carlos III hospital in the capital and is said to be in a stable condition.
The Spanish health authorities say she is being treated with a drip using antibodies from previous Ebola patients.
Her husband and a second nurse who treated the missionary are now in quarantine, officials said, as well as a man who recently arrived on a flight from Nigeria.
Doctors are also monitoring 22 people who the nurse had contact with at Alcorcon hospital, and 30 people working at Carlos III, according to health sources quoted by Spanish newspaper El Pais.
They include an ambulance crew, and doctors and nurses, and have all been contacted by the health authorities.
It was not clear where the nurse had gone on holiday.
It is also unclear how she could have contracted Ebola.
The hospital was reported to have had extreme protective measures in place including two sets of overalls, gloves and goggles.
However, health workers told El Pais newspaper that the clothing did not have level-four biological security, which is fully waterproof and with independent breathing apparatus.
Instead it was level two, the paper says, as photographs provided by staff indicated that the overalls did not allow for ventilation and the gloves were made of latex and bound with adhesive tape.