American who contracted Ebola in Liberia is returned to United States for treatment

Aug. 4, 2014

With news helicopters hovering above Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, and amid extraordinarily tight security, on Saturday a police-escorted ambulance brought Dr. Kent Brantly into the hospital to begin treatment for the Ebola virus, which he contracted treating patients in a hospital in epidemic-ridden Liberia. A team of four infectious disease doctors, a rotation of nurses, and on-call subspecialists has been assembled to maximize Brantly’s chances of recovering from the usually fatal infection. Brantly will be treated in a special containment unit for patients suffering from dangerous infectious diseases.

Brantly is one of two Americans who were infected in the Liberian facility. The second, Nancy Writebol, reportedly will be flown to the United States for treatment at Emory this week.

Bruce Ribner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, told the media, “The reason we are bringing these patients back to our facility is that we feel they deserve to have the highest level of care offered for their treatment.” The patients will receive supportive care to maintain their vital functions and give their immune systems a chance to battle the virus, for which there is no available chemotherapy. “We depend on the body’s defenses to control the virus,” Ribner added. “We just have to keep the patient alive long enough for the body to control this infection.”

Meanwhile, the epidemic continues to rage in West Africa, with more than 700 deaths confirmed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and one death recently reported in Nigeria. A major expansion of the epidemic to Nigeria is considered to be very unlikely, but an Ebola death in Africa’s most populous nation is a new matter of concern for epidemiologists. Learn more about the World Health Organization’s new Ebola outbreak response plan.

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