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Medical missionaries discharged from hospital, cured of Ebola

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Dr. Kent Brantly, the medical missionary who contracted Ebola when he was treating patients with the same deadly disease in Liberia, was released from the hospital, according to a Thursday story in the New York Times. Nancy Writebol, a nurse who has also contracted Ebola, had been released quietly two days before. They have been cured of the deadly disease and are from hence forth immune to it.

Brantly ascribed his being cured to God, albeit working through the efforts of Samaritan’s Purse, the faith based organization her worked for, and the doctors of Emory University Hospital. He and Writebol were given a course of an experimental drug called Zmapp, which seems to have a great effect in beating back the virus. Five other people have been given the drug. One, a Spanish priest, has died but four others, all doctors, seem to be improving.

Despite the near miraculous cure that Brantly and Writebol experienced thanks to their getting Zmapp, do not look for the drug to be available on a mass scale anytime soon. The Centers for Disease Control notes that Zmapp has not even undergone phase one clinical trials to ascertain its safety and effectiveness. That will be the work of many years before the drug can be designated for mass production and use in Africa, where the vast majority of Ebola cases occur. It is unknown when these trials will begin and how many people will be involved.

In the meantime, Ebola cases will be dealt with as they have been for the past few decades. Health care workers will strive to isolate patients to make sure they do not infect others. They will try to provide enough care that is available so that, at least in some cases, patients will be able to throw off the infection naturally. Nevertheless the death rates for Ebola range from 60 percent to 90 percent.

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