Americans with Ebola to return to US for treatment
ATLANTA — The medical evacuation from Liberia to Atlanta of two American citizens infected with the deadly Ebola virus will occur by the end of the weekend, according to the Christian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse.
“Dr. Kent Brantly, a doctor working for Samaritan’s Purse, and Nancy Writebol, a missionary with SIM, are currently in serious condition. The two Americans who contracted Ebola in Liberia remain in the country today but medical evacuation efforts are underway and should be completed by early next week,” read a prepared statement Friday from Samaritan’s Purse.
Emory University Hospital in Atlanta confirmed Thursday that there were plans to transfer “a patient” with Ebola virus to its special containment unit within several days. The isolation units were built in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The containment unit, which is one of only four of its kind in the nation, isolates infected patients from other areas of the hospital.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola, which causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and massive internal bleeding, and has a fatality rate of 60-90 percent. It is spread through direct contact with the blood, organs or other secretions of infected people.
People who are infected with this hemorrhagic virus experience sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and headaches, along with vomiting and diarrhea. The disease also can cause kidney and liver failure, as well as internal bleeding.
Samaritan’s Purse said that other, non-infected workers are in the process of departing West Africa.
“Evacuation of 60 nonessential Samaritan’s Purse and SIM staff and dependents in Liberia has already begun,” the statement said. “They are all healthy, and we expect them to return to the United States by the end of the weekend. We ask for continued prayer for the evacuation process and the health of Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol, the medical staff treating them and for all those who are affected by Ebola.”
Word that two infected patients were being transported to the United States for medical care has sparked fears among some that the disease could begin to spread here. However, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases insisted that this was highly unlikely.
“Given the health care infrastructure and our ability to isolate people who are infected and to take care of them with the proper protective equipment, it is extraordinarily unlikely that there would be an outbreak in the United States, so people should not worry,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday. “It’s the lack of health care infrastructure that leads to the problems.”
On Thursday, the CDC issued a statement warning against travel to the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“We do not have effective treatment or vaccine for Ebola,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “There is no proven treatment. There is no proven vaccine. There is not likely to be one for at least a year, even in the best case scenario. We are not going to treat or vaccinate our way out of these outbreaks.
“We are going to use the traditional means that work of case identification, isolation, contact tracing, health communication, good meticulous management. That’s what has stopped every Ebola outbreak that’s ever happened before. That’s what will stop this Ebola outbreak.”