It’s hard being quarantined for 21 days, let alone being separated from your family and beloved pet. Nina Pham, a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating now-deceased patient Thomas Eric Duncan, celebrated the completion of two quarantines — with a heartwarming reunion with her dog.
Dallas nurse Nina Pham calls her precious King Charles spaniel her best friend. Pham described the reunion full of pets and sloppy kisses following quarantine as “amazing.” She said, “It feels like Christmas — literally. I just can’t imagine just having my best friend back.”
Working as a nurse in Dallas, Pham cared for the first diagnosed Ebola patient in the U.S. After patient Duncan’s death on Oct. 8, Pham tested positive for Ebola and was transferred to Maryland’s National Institutes of Health to receive treatment. Pham was the first confirmed Ebola patient who contracted the virus on U.S. soil.
The next immediate concern was Pham’s dog, Bentley. In a similar case, a dog named Excalibur was euthanized in Spain after being exposed to an Ebola patient. Fortunately for Pham, Dallas authorities had mercy on Bentley and placed him in a 21-day quarantine to save his life.
Bentley was released eight days after Pham completed her quarantine Ebola-free on Oct. 24, 2014. Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings endorsed Pham and Bentley in their reunion, saying, “Bentley symbolized everything we were trying to do.”
As for the happy pair, Pham plans to celebrate with Bentley to mark the end of both successful quarantines. As soon as they get home, she’s taking Bentley to pick out a gift for his soon-approaching second birthday party.
While many have argued that quarantining — and especially euthanizing — a pet exposed to Ebola is unnecessary, Bentley’s positive story provides the country with peace of mind. The CDC confirms there have been no reports of Ebola being spread from pets or other animals to humans.
Three weeks of quarantine would be tough on any person or pet, but Pham and Bentley hung in there. Bentley was tested three times for Ebola throughout his quarantine. Once Bentley’s third Ebola test came back negative after 21 days of isolation, he was ready to be reunited with his owner — for good, this time.