World | Health | Nation

First Ebola Patient Has Arrived In U.S. From Liberia

NPR | Aug. 25, 2014 8:54 a.m.

Contributed By:

Bill Chappell

American patients infected with Ebola will be treated in an isolation room like this one at Emory University Hospital.

American patients infected with Ebola will be treated in an isolation room like this one at Emory University Hospital.

Emory University, Jack Kearse

The first of two American aid workers infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia reportedly arrived in Atlanta today to begin treatment. Dr. Kent Brantly has been living in quarantine conditions since realizing he had been infected with the disease last month.

“The medical plane transporting American Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly has landed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia,” CNN says, citing Phoenix Air, the company that operates the chartered plane. Shortly after noon (ET), the network’s TV feed cut to a helicopter camera tracking an ambulance driving on Atlanta’s interstates.

When the patient arrives at Emory University Hospital, it will mark the first time someone with Ebola has been treated in the U.S., as NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff reports.

Brantly, 33, and another aid worker, Nancy Writebol, 59, are said to be in serious but stable condition since they contracted the virus while fighting an outbreak that has killed more than 700 people in West Africa.

The two had been working for the Christian charity organization Samaritan’s Purse when they became infected. When the news broke Thursday that Brantly and Writebol would be brought to the U.S., officials said they have a much better chance of surviving if they’re treated in the U.S. rather than in Liberia.

News of the plan to evacuate people suffering from viral hemorrhagic fever from Africa to the U.S. has caused alarm in some circles. As Michaeleen reports, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize that the virus can’t be spread by casual contact or through the air.

Both Emory University and the CDC are based in Atlanta; the school says it “has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases.

No drug can cure someone of Ebola. So far, the two American patients’ treatments have included “a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old boy who recovered from the disease” and an “experimental serum,” NPR’s Richard Harris reports for our Shots health blog.

From member station WABE in Atlanta, Jim Burress reports about the treatment plans after today’s arrival:

“The patient is expected to arrive from Liberia at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga. From there, a specially outfitted ambulance will take the patient approximately 18 miles to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital where there is a specially built isolation unit.

“Dr. Alexander Isakov is overseeing the transport. At a Friday press conference, he downplayed any threat to public safety.

“‘Through drills and exercises over the years, we’ve developed our competency and feel confident we can do this job well,’ he said.

“Once at the hospital, the patient will be treated by a team of doctors and nurses trained in infectious diseases. Emory says it expects the second patient to arrive within the next few days.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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