Nurse Nancy Writebol, the second American missionary stricken with Ebola, is expected to fly Tuesday to the US for treatment, following her colleague, Dr. Kent Brnatly, who was admitted over the weekend to Emory University Hospital’s infectious disease unit in Atlanta.
A Liberian official confirmed to the Associated Press plans for Nancy Writebol to depart with a medical evacuation team. The evacuation flight was scheduled to leave West Africa between 1 a.m. and 1.30 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
Nancy Writebol is in good spirits despite her diagnosis, said the pastor of her hometown church in Charlotte, North Carolina, who has spoken with her husband, David.
“She is holding her own,” the Rev. John Munro said.
John Munro’s Calvary Church is a nondenominational evangelical congregation that sponsors the Writebols as missionaries in Liberia, one of the West African nations grappling with the worst outbreak of Ebola ever recorded there.
Nnacy Writebol’s mission team partner, Dr. Kent Brantly, was improving Sunday after he was admitted to Emory’s quarantine unit a day earlier, according to a statement from his wife.
“Our family is rejoicing over Kent’s safe arrival, and we are confident that he is receiving the very best care,” Amber Brantly said, adding that she was able to see her husband Sunday.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol served on the same mission team treating Ebola victims when they contracted the virus themselves. Kent Brantly was serving as a physician in the hospital compound near Monrovia, Liberia, when he became infected. They said Nancy Writebol worked as a hygienist whose role included decontaminating those entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area at that hospital.
There is no cure for Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever that kills at least 60% of the people it infects in Africa. Ebola spreads through close contact with bodily fluids and blood, meaning it is not spread as easily as airborne influenza or the common cold. Africa’s under-developed health care system and inadequate infection controls make it easier for the Ebola virus to spread and harder to treat.
Any modern hospital using standard infection-control measures should be able to handle it, according to medical experts, and Emory’s infectious disease unit is one of about four in the US that is specially equipped to test and treat people exposed to the most dangerous viruses.
Patients are quarantined, sealed off from anyone who is not in protective gear. Lab tests are conducted inside the unit, ensuring that viruses don’t leave the quarantined area. Family members can see and communicate with patients only through barriers.
Dr. Kent Brantly arrived Saturday under stringent protocols, flying from West Africa to Dobbins Air Reserve base outside Atlanta in a small plane equipped to contain infectious diseases. A small police escort followed his ambulance to Emory, where he emerged dressed head to toe in white protective clothing and walked into the hospital on his own power.
The US public health officials continue to emphasize that treating Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol in the US poses no risks to the public here.
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