Dallas nurse Nina Pham has been declared Ebola-free and is eager to reunite with her dog Bentley, but she'll have to wait until he is out of quarantine.
National Institutes of Health in Maryland announced Pham is Ebola-free, and she was discharged from NIH Friday and returned to Dallas that night.
"I ask for my privacy and for my family's privacy to be respected as I return to Texas and try to get back to a normal life and reunite with my dog Bentley," Pham said at a news conference outside NIH on Friday.
A team of specially-trained veterinarians started testing the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for the virus Monday, sending samples from his waste to a lab. So far, Bentley has tested negative for the virus, but he'll remain in isolation until Nov. 1.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a statement Friday saying Pham would be able to see her dog Saturday but City officials supervising the dog’s care said no and Jenkins acknowledged Saturday that experts decided it would be a bad idea.
“There’s no risk to her to be around the dog, but the top veterinarians in the state say the regimen we have the dog on, on monitoring, needs to not be interrupted and that the excitement of seeing her, and the separation anxiety when she would leave the quarantine area would be detrimental to their monitoring,” Jenkins said.
So the reunion will be delayed for now.
Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said Pham might be allowed to see Bentley, but won't be able to cuddle with her dog until he has cleared quarantine. Syed said no reunion plan had been made yet.
The City of Dallas tweeted new pictures Thursday night (seen above). The city said vets will run one more test before the end of a 21-day quarantine period to ensure he doesn't have the virus.
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The City of Dallas posted a YouTube video featuring an interview with one of the vets caring for Pham's dog and video of Bentley playing with a new toy fox bought by one of his doctors.
Pham is one of two nurses who fell ill with the potentially deadly virus after caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at a Dallas hospital.
In response to the outpouring of support around the world for Bentley, the city of Dallas partnered with Dallas Companion Animal Project to establish the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services (PETS) fund. The donations will help Bentley and other pets in similar emergency situations in the future.
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