The American doctor – Kent Brantly – whose body is carrying the highly fatal Ebola virus, arrived in the U.S. over the weekend. Dr. Brantly contracted the virus while voluntarily treating Ebola patients in Libya. Under tight security and multiple precautions and redundancies, the physician was taken to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital on Saturday to begin treatment.
Writes the NY Times on Aug. 2: “The first of two American aid workers infected with Ebola while working in West Africa arrived in the United States on Saturday aboard a private air ambulance specially equipped to isolate patients with infectious diseases and was quickly admitted to a hospital here.”
Brantly, thought to be the first patient treated for Ebola in the U.S., was flown in and transported to the hospital via a police escort. Law enforcement was beefed up around the hospital, and canine units were seen patrolling the perimeter. Officials in Hazmat suits unloaded the doctor, and he was taken to the hospital’s specialized containment unit. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, headquartered nearby, is providing oversight.
Video, seen above, shows Brantly walking into the hospital wearing an impermeable bodysuit and a ventilator.
Fellow infected American aid worker, Nancy Writebol, is expected to arrive to the U.S. this week.
Lead physician Dr. Bruce S. Ribner said at a news conference preceding the arrival of Dr. Brantly that a “robust roster” of medical workers will provide around-the-clock care. Dr. Ribner explained the decision to bring Brantly back to the states for treatment, despite the risks.
“The reason we are bringing these patients back to our facility is because we feel they deserve to have the highest level of care offered for their treatment,” Ribner said. “We depend on the body’s defenses to control the virus,” he said. “We just have to keep the patient alive long enough in order for the body to control this infection.”
The Times reported:
Dr. Brantly and Ms. Writebol will be housed in a unit that is small and positioned well away from other patients at the hospital. They will probably have limited contact with visitors, Dr. Ribner said, communicating with nonmedical personnel through telephones and an intercom system. A sheet of glass will separate the ill from the healthy.
Dr. Ribner sought to quell rising concerns, spread via social media, that the introduction of an Ebola-carrying host could result in a potential outbreak here in the U.S.
“From the time the air ambulance arrives in the metropolitan Atlanta area, up to and including being hospitalized at Emory University Hospital,” he said, “we have taken every precaution that we know and that our colleagues at the CDC know to ensure that there is no spread of this virus pathogen.”
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, CDC Director, weighed in with similar comments, calling for compassion.
“These are American citizens,” Frieden said. “American citizens have a right of return. I certainly hope people’s fear doesn’t trump their compassion.”
The Ebola virus, which is not naturally transmitted through the air, has claimed over 700 lives in West Africa. It carries a high mortality rate – 50 to 90 percent.
The Wall Street Journal discussed treatment options for Ebola:
There is no vaccine or treatment for the viral hemorrhagic fever, which causes symptoms such as fever, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea and can puncture blood vessels to cause internal bleeding. But good supportive care, such as fluids to replace those lost in vomiting and diarrhea, medication to bring down fevers, and antibiotics for complications can improve a patient's chances by keeping the immune system as strong as possible to fight off the virus.