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World Spanish nurse who recovered from Ebola offers to give blood to treat other victims

This is an undated image released on Wednesday Oct. 8, 2014 by animal rights organisation PACMA, of Teresa Romero, the nursing assistant who is infected with Ebola in Madrid, with her dog named Excalibur. Officials in Madrid got a court order to euthanize the pet dog of Spanish nursing assistant Romero, because of the chance the animal might spread the disease. At least one major study suggests that dogs can be infected with the deadly Ebola virus without showing symptoms, but whether or how likely they are to spread it to people is less clear. (AP Photo / PACMA)

The Associated Press

The Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola in Madrid, a case that caused alarm and political recriminations, said on Wednesday she hoped her infection could be of use and offered to give blood to treat potential sufferers as she left hospital.

Teresa Romero, 44, overcame the deadly virus after becoming the first known person to catch Ebola outside West Africa in the current outbreak, which has so far killed nearly 5,000 people.

The contagion, after Romero cared for two priests repatriated from West Africa and who later died in Madrid, caused a backlash against the Spanish government, with health workers claiming they had received inadequate training and equipment to deal with Ebola.

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"I don't know what went wrong, I don't even know if anything went wrong," an emotional Romero told a news conference, referring to the source of the contagion, which is still being investigated.

"I only know that I am not reproachful or resentful, but if my infection can be of some use, so that the disease can be studied better or to help find a vaccine or to cure other people, here I am," Romero said, accompanied by staff from the Carlos III Hospital where she was treated, and her husband. A Spanish nursing assistant who recovered from Ebola credited health care workers with saving her life and offered Wednesday to donate blood to help cure others.

Romero was given antibodies from a missionary nun who had caught Ebola in Liberia and who had also survived, as well as an experimental drug called favipiravir, doctors said. They added it was not clear exactly which part of the treatment had been key to her recovery.

SPANISH NURSE SAYS KILLING OF DOG 'WASN'T NECESSARY'

Romero slammed Spanish officials for killing her beloved dog, saying the mixed breed named Excalibur was unnecessarily "executed."

Her husband, Javier Limon, read Romero's remarks about Excalibur as she listened at his side, saying his wife was too emotional to talk about the dog that was like the childless couple's own child.

Madrid health officials euthanized Excalibur on Oct. 8, saying the dog posed a potential public health risk for Ebola transmission. But the dog of a nurse who got Ebola in Dallas was simply quarantined and then later reunited with its owner.

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Killing Excalibur "wasn't necessary," Romero said in her statement. "The worst part of all of this is that our dog was not given a chance."

GERMANY: EXPERIMENTAL HEART DRUG HAS 'BENEFICIAL EFFECT' ON EBOLA

Doctors in Germany said on Wednesday a patient infected with Ebola had recovered after they had treated him with an experimental drug initially designed to treat vascular problems and help heart attack patients.

Doctors at the Frankfurt University Hospital said the patient, who was medically evacuated to Frankfurt after working with Ebola victims in Sierra Leone, recovered after receiving the drug called FX06, developed by scientists at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria.

The patient, whose immune system had been weakened by the virus, was still in hospital, the medics told reporters at a news conference, and would spend more time in Frankfurt until he regained his strength.

While the doctors said their success with this patient suggested FX06 may be a potential treatment for Ebola, the Austrian scientists who developed it said in a statement on their website that another Ebola patient treated in Leipzig with the same drug had died "due to massive overall bleeding."

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Despite this, they added, "there is good reason to believe that the drug has a beneficial effect as supportive treatment in Ebola patients."

Rather than attacking the virus, the Frankfurt hospital said the treatment focused on mitigating the damage to organs caused by the pathogen.

According to its developers, FX06 is an experimental drug designed to stop the leakage of plasma fluid from blood vessels, which is what happened to the Frankfurt patient. The drug is being tested on humans to treat some damage caused by heart attacks.

"Patients need to survive for 10 to 12 days until their body has enough time to develop antibodies to Ebola," said Timo Wolf, the infectious diseases specialist who treated the patient, speaking at a press conference in Frankfurt on Wednesday.

CHINA: PRODUCTION OF 'VERY COMFORTABLE' EBOLA PROTECTION SUITS TO RAMP UP

The Weifang Lakeland Safety Products factory in the eastern Shandong province city of Anqui has 100 workers assembling the now-familiar plastic suits at a rate of about 6,000 per day. The factory plans to double its capacity by January.

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The ChemMAX and MicroMAX protective suits, made of polyethylene and polypropylene, are produced for the U.S.-based Lakeland Industries, a main supplier of suits in the Ebola outbreak.

Each is carefully put together by people and machines so that it is completely sealed, because any gap could allow exposure to a deadly illness. Each seam is sewn and then reinforced with a glue strip.

"The double zipper design allows you to open the suit from the bottom when you need to take something from inside the suit," factory general manager Wang Ximin told a visitor. "We put an adhesive strip along the front flap in order to better seal off the front to make sure contamination is not able to penetrate."

"You can spread your legs and squat down easily in the suit. It feels very comfortable to wear," he said. "Very comfortable."

Wang said current production already is about 30 to 40 per cent above the same period last year, and that the production will double again by January. Demand has soared, not only for use in Africa, but from medical facilities in the United States and Europe.

"We are very proud that the protective suits we manufacture can be used by those who are fighting against Ebola," he said.

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