By Monte Morin And Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times
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 to 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 can also cause kidney and liver failure, as well as internal bleeding.
A hospital spokeswoman on Friday declined to answer questions on the impending arrival and referred reporters to an earlier statement.
Samaritan’s Purse said that other, non-infected workers are already 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.”
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.”
Writebol has reportedly received an “experimental serum” of which there was only enough for one person, while Brantly reportedly received a “unit of blood” from a 14-year-old boy who had survived the disease, whose family had wanted to thank the doctor for saving their son’s life.
Frieden said he could not comment on those reported medical interventions Thursday.
“In terms of experimental treatment, I don’t know any details of what may have been given,” Frieden said. “I will say that we have reviewed the evidence of the treatments out there and don’t find any treatment that’s had proven effectiveness against Ebola disease.”
AFP Photo/Zoom Dosso
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