By Steve Scherer
ROME (Reuters) - Italy's only Ebola patient is fully recovered and was released from hospital on Friday more than a month after being flown to Rome from Sierra Leone where he worked as a doctor treating others stricken by the disease.
The 50-year-old Sicilian man has been identified only by his first name, Fabrizio. He contracted the hemorrhagic virus while working for humanitarian group Emergency during the worst Ebola outbreak on record.
"For the first few days, partly to keep my mind active, I tried to examine every symptom I was experiencing scientifically," Fabrizio told reporters in his first public appearance since contracting the disease.
"Then there came a moment when I lost consciousness of what was going on around me and I don't remember anything that happened for about two weeks," he said, thanking those who cared for him during his illness.
He said that after he regains his strength he may return to Sierra Leone to continue treating Ebola patients. Ebola survivors are generally believed to be immune to future infection from the strain that made them sick.
His blood, which contains antibodies that fight the virus, will be sent to Sierra Leone to help in treatment, a doctor who treated Fabrizio at the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital said.
The virus is still spreading in West Africa, especially in Sierra Leone, and the number of known cases globally has exceeded 20,000, with 7,905 dead, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
After his arrival in Rome on Nov. 25, the patient's condition worsened and he was moved to intensive care on Dec. 5, where he received respiratory assistance.
He was treated with a combination of an experimental drug never used before in Italy, and plasma taken from survivors of the disease.
(Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Toby Chopra)