Reuters reported on Sunday that Dr Kent Brantly, the American doctor who has been stricken with the Ebola virus, has arrived in Atlanta from Liberia where he has been treated Ebola patients since June. Remarkably, while wearing a hazmat suit, he was able to walk, albeit with some help. He is said to be improving, a hopeful sign. He will be treated at Emory University Hospital by experts in infectious diseases. Brantly, along with another American, a nurse named Nancy Writebol who is also down with the disease, was working with a faith based organization called Samaritan's Purse.
Ebola is a disease that has thus far been confined to sub-Saharan Africa, where outbreaks such as the current one have occurred periodically. The disease causes a number of symptoms including internal bleeding. Fatality rates have been as high as 90 percent, though the current rate is closer to 60 percent. Fatality rate are said to be exacerbated by substandard health care and poor diet prevalent in Africa. The virus seems to be transmitted to exposure to the body fluids of the stricken.
A piece in PLOS suggests that the reason a cure or vaccine has not been found yet for Ebola is because too few people die from it who besides live in poor countries. That situation seems to be changing, with the FDA and the National Institutes of Health fast tracking a treatment that works in primate with the first human trials to begin as early as September. Brantly has already been given a blood transfusion from a Liberian boy whom he treated who survived Ebola in hopes that his antibodies will be of help.
In the meantime Brantly, along with Wriiebol who is due to arrive in the United States in Tuesday, will be given as much care as modern medical science can provide. They will be kept is isolation and provided with fluids and other support in hope that their own bodies will be made strong enough to fight off the disease. While they contend with the disease they will be able to see friends and relatives through a glass partition and communicate via telephone.