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Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the US aid workers who recovered from an Ebola infection, is “thrilled to be alive” as he is discharged from hospital.
Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, thanked supporters for their prayers at a news conference in Atlanta.
Nurse Nancy Writebol, 59, was discharged on August 19.
The two were brought to the US for treatment three weeks ago.
The outbreak has killed more than 1,300 people in West Africa, with many of the deaths occurring in Liberia.
“Today is a miraculous day,” said Dr. Kent Brantly, who appeared healthy if pallid as he addressed reporters on Thursday at Emory University hospital.
“I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family. As a medical missionary, I never imagined myself in this position.”
Dr. Kent Brantly contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia, where he and his family moved in October 2013 (photo AP)
Dr. Kent Brantly said Ebola “was not on the radar” when he and his family moved to Liberia in October.
After his family returned to the US as the Ebola outbreak tore through West Africa, Kent Brantly continued to treat Ebola patients and woke up on July 23 feeling “under the weather”.
Dr. Kent Brantly said he lay in bed for nine days, getting progressively sicker and weaker.
On August 1, he was flown to Atlanta for treatment at Emory unit.
Emory infectious disease specialist Dr. Bruce Ribner said after rigorous treatment and testing officials were confident Dr. Kent Brantly had recovered “and he can return to his family, his community and his life without public health concerns”.
The group for which Dr. Kent Brantly was working in Liberia, Samaritan’s Purse, said they were celebrating his recovery.
“Today I join all of our Samaritan’s Purse team around the world in giving thanks to God as we celebrate Dr. Kent Brantly’s recovery from Ebola and release from the hospital,” Franklin Graham said in a statement.
Nancy Writebol’s husband David said in a statement that she was free of the virus but was significantly weakened.
Her family decided to leave the hospital privately in order to allow her to rest and recuperate.
Meanwhile, South Africa on Thursday said non-citizens arriving from Ebola-affected areas of West Africa – the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – would not be allowed into the country.
There is no cure for Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases known to humans, with a fatality rate in this outbreak of 50-60%.
But both Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol received an experimental treatment known as ZMapp.
The drug, which has only been made in extremely limited quantities, had never been tested on humans and it remains unclear if it is responsible for their recovery.
ZMapp was also given to a Spanish priest, who died, and three Liberian health workers, who are showing signs of improvement.
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The Ebola infected US aid workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nurse Nancy Writebol, appear to be improving after receiving an experimental drug, officials have said.
It is not clear if the ZMapp drug, which has only been tested on monkeys, can be credited with their improvement.
Dr. Kent Brantly was flown from Liberia to Atlanta for treatment on Saturday. His colleague Nancy Writebol arrived back in the city of Atlanta on Tuesday.
Since February, 887 people have died of Ebola in four West African countries.
The World Bank is allocating $200 million in emergency assistance for countries battling to contain the Ebola outbreak.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nurse Nancy Writebol’s condition appear to be improving after receiving Ebola experimental serum ZMapp
It is the world’s deadliest outbreak to date and has centered on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There have also been two cases in the Nigerian city of Lagos, where eight people are currently in quarantine.
British Airways has temporarily suspended flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone until August 31, 2014, because of the health crisis, the airline said in a statement. It follows a similar suspension by two regional air carriers last week.
The Ebola virus spreads by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. The current outbreak is killing between 50% and 60% of people infected.
There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola – but patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says clinical trials are to start in September on an Ebola vaccine that has shown promising results during tests on animals.
Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were treated with the ZMapp serum before their evacuation from Liberia.
According to a CNN report, quoting a doctor in Liberia, Dr. Kent Brantly’s condition improved dramatically within an hour of receiving the drug.
Service in Mission (SIM), the Christian aid group that employs Nancy Writebol, says she has had two doses of the drug and did not respond as well as Dr. Kent Brantly but she is showing “improvement”.
“She is walking with assistance… strength is better… has an appetite,” SIM spokesman Palmer Holt told the Washington Post newspaper in an email on Monday.
Nancy Writebol is on her way to a special isolation ward at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, where Dr. Kent Brantly is being treated by infectious disease specialists.
The World Bank is to allocate $200 million in emergency assistance for West African countries battling to contain the Ebola outbreak.
The money will be distributed to the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as well as to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The number of people killed in the outbreak has reached 887, the WHO says.
The World Bank’s announcement came as African leaders including 35 presidents discuss the crisis in Washington.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim – an expert on infectious diseases – said that he was “deeply saddened” by the spread of the virus and how it was contributing to the breakdown of “already weak health systems in the three countries”.
“I am very worried that many more lives are at risk unless we can stop this Ebola epidemic in its tracks,” he said.
The World Bank will allocate $200 million in emergency assistance for West African countries battling to contain the Ebola outbreak
In the short term, the money will be used to pay health workers, dispel rumors about the disease in local communities and address the immediate needs of getting sick people into health facilities.
Over the long term, the funds will be used to help countries deal with the economic impact of the outbreak and to monitor the spread of the disease.
The package is now awaiting approval by the World Bank’s Board of Directors, though officials say the confirmation could come as early as this week.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) say preliminary research suggests the epidemic is likely to shave one percentage point from Guinea’s economic output this year.
In other developments:
- Nigeria has recorded its second Ebola case – one of the doctors who treated a man who died from the virus after his arrival from Liberia
- Liberia has ordered that the bodies of people killed by the Ebola virus must be cremated following the refusal of some communities to allow the burial of victims on their land.
The Ebola virus spreads by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids.
Touching the body of someone who has died of Ebola is particularly dangerous.
The evacuation of the second US health worker to become infected in Liberia, nurse Nancy Writebol, is expected later.
Nancy Writebol will be flown to Atlanta in the US to a special isolation ward at Emory University Hospital, where Dr. Kent Brantly, who arrived from Liberia on Saturday, is being treated by infectious disease specialists.
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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.
Nurse Nancy Writebol is expected to fly Tuesday to the US for treatment
“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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Dr. Kent Brantly, who was infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, has arrived in the US for treatment at a specialized unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
The US doctor arrived in a specially equipped private plane at a military base before being whisked away to Emory University Hospital.
Fellow infected US aid worker Nancy Writebol is expected to follow shortly.
Ebola has claimed 728 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year, killing up to 90% of sufferers.
The virus spreads through human contact with a sufferer’s bodily fluids.
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external hemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure.
Ebola infected Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol will be treated at a specialized unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta
The US health authorities have warned against travelling to the African states affected and 50 extra American specialists are being sent to affected areas.
The plane carrying Dr. Kent Brantly was outfitted with a special portable tent designed for transporting patients with highly infectious diseases.
After it touched down at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, the patient was collected by an ambulance which drove him to Emory, 15 miles away.
At the hospital a person in protective clothing could be seen climbing down from the back of the ambulance and a second person in protective clothing appeared to take his gloved hands and guide him toward a building, the Associated Press report.
US officials say they are confident the patients can be treated without putting the public in any danger.
The specialized unit at Emory University Hospital was opened 12 years ago to care for federal health workers exposed to some of the world’s most dangerous germs.
While it has an isolation unit, health experts say it is not needed for treating a patient with Ebola, as the virus does not spread through the air.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unaware of any Ebola patient ever being treated in the US before.
Dr. Kent Brantly’s employer, the aid group Samaritan’s Purse, said in a statement that it was evacuating 60 non-essential staff who were healthy back to the US.
An earlier statement said that Dr. Kent Brantly had been offered experimental serum – using blood from a child whose life he saved – but he had insisted that Nancy Writebol should receive it instead.
Dr. Kent Brantly’s wife, Amber, said in a statement she remained “hopeful and believing that Kent” would be “healed from this dreadful disease”.
The National Institutes of Health in the US has said it will begin testing a possible Ebola vaccine in September.
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