Second American Ebola patient arrives in Atlanta, amid reports of illness in Saudi Arabia

Aug. 6, 2014

Nancy Writebol, the second American health worker who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa, is now being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, after having been flown from Liberia to the United States in a specially-equipped plane. Writebol had been working as a hygienist, decontaminating protective suits worn by workers in a medical center in Liberia. Like her colleague, Dr. Kent Brantly, she is being treated in an isolation ward at Emory. Reportedly, before leaving Africa both Brantly and Writebol were treated with an experimental drug that has not undergone clinical trials and had previously been used only on lab monkeys; reportedly, both had experienced some improvement in their condition.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and most recently Nigeria (two deaths) has climbed to more than 900; the government of Sierra Leone has deployed troops to ensure that Ebola patients remain isolated; and a Saudi citizen who had recently visited Sierra Leone is being treated for symptoms of the viral hemorrhagic disease in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (As this issue ofLABline prepares to blast, there are reports that this patient has died.) In epidemics as in war, truth is the first casualty, so journalists—and everyone else—should stress the unconfirmed nature of much of the reported information. One thing that is confirmed, however, is that the presence of the two American patients in Atlanta, and the Ebola virus more generally, pose no significant threat to the American public. The CDC has, however, issued a “Level 3” warning for travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea—all nonessential travel should be avoided—and a “Level 2” alert for Nigeria—enhanced precautions should be taken. Learn more from the CDC.

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