At midnight Friday Texas could begin considering itself Ebola-free, state officials said.
The last person being monitored for the viral disease passed the 21-day monitoring period, the maximum known incubation time for Ebola. The state began monitoring a total of 177 people since the first Ebola patient was diagnosed and following the infection of two nurses. People under twice-a-day monitoring included anyone who had direct contact with one of these patients, specimens or medical waste, according to the Department of State Health Services.
“We’re happy to reach this milestone, but our guard stays up,” the department's commissioner Dr. David Lakey said in a statement. “We reached this point through teamwork and meticulous monitoring, and we’ll continue to be vigilant to protect Texas from Ebola.”
Member of medical staff of the Biological Defense Center looks through a window during a press demonstration at the facility in the village of Techonin, Czech Republic, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. The Biological Defense Center is capable and equipped for treatment of possible Ebola virus patients. (AP/Petr David Josek)
The first Texas and U.S. diagnosed patient with the disease, which has been spreading in several West African countries, was Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was visiting. Duncan died while in the care of Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, but two nurses from the hospital — Nina Pham and Amber Vinson — later contracted to the virus as well. Both Pham and Vinson ended up being cured of Ebola.
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Vinson has more recently been speaking out about her situation.
"The first time that I put on the protective equipment, I was heading in to take care of the patient," Vinson told NBC's "Today" show in an interview broadcast Thursday.
"We didn't have excessive training where we could don and doff, put on and take off the protective equipment, till we got a level of being comfortable with it," Vinson said. "I didn't have that, and I think that's very important for hospitals across the nation, big and small."
But Vinson told CNN in an interview broadcast Thursday night that she has no idea how she became infected.
Amber Vinson, 29, the Dallas nurse who was being treated for Ebola, spoke at a news conference as members of her nursing staff look on after being discharged from Emory University Hospital, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP/David Goldman
"I go through it almost daily in my mind: What happened, what went wrong. Because I was covered completely every time. I followed the CDC protocol for donning and doffing every time. I never strayed," she told CNN. "It is a mystery to me."
There is one remaining American hospitalized with Ebola, Dr. Craig Spencer in New York, a physician who worked for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea. He continues to show improvement, remains in isolation and is in stable condition.
According to an update this week from the World Health Organization, there have been 13,042 Ebola cases and 4,818 deaths since the first child died of the virus in December — but those figures include all probable, suspected and confirmed cases and are subject to change as more information becomes available. The numbers have actually dropped slightly in the past week because numbers fluctuate as more data becomes available, and as probable and suspected cases are either discarded or confirmed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.