US doctor with Ebola arrives in Atlanta for treatment

US doctor with Ebola arrives in Atlanta for treatment

Sat Aug 2, 2014 10:9PM GMT

An American doctor who contracted the deadly Ebola virus in Africa arrived on US soil on Saturday, marking the first time anyone infected with the incurable disease is believed to have been brought into the US for treatment. Dr. Kent Brantly arrived in Atlanta on Saturday amid high security at a military base via specialized air ambulance, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The private plane, outfitted with a special, portable tent designed for transporting patients with highly infectious diseases arrived around 11:30 EDT at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, spokesman Lt. Col. James Wilson confirmed. Brantly, 33, was quickly transported to Emory University Hospital, where he will receive treatment at one of the most sophisticated hospital isolation units in the country, officials say.

Wilson told NBC that Brantly’s arrival and transfer to the hospital was “uneventful.’ US officials are confident the patients can be treated without putting the public in danger.

Video from Emory showed a person in a hooded biocontainment suit climbed down from the back of the ambulance and being assisted by another person in a hazmat suit into the hospital, NBC reports.

CNN confirms though Brantly’s family that the stricken doctor who was able to walk into the hospital with assistance. His wife Amber, sister and parents were able to watch the video of Brantly’s arrival.

“I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the US,” Amber said in statement sent to CNN. “I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital.”

The family will be able to see him through protective glass later on Saturday, CNN reports.

A second American patient, Nancy Writebol, was expected to arrive at Emory in a few days, the hospital has said. The two Americans worked for North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse and US-based SIM at a Liberian hospital that treated Ebola patients. Liberia is one of the three West Africa countries hit by the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory who will be involved in Brantly’s care, said the hospital’s isolation unit is well-equipped to handle patients with diseases that are even more infectious than Ebola.

The hospital said in a statement that the unit was “set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases” and that it “has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation. It is one of only four such facilities in the country.”

The unit was used for treating at least one SARS patient in 2005. Unlike Ebola, SARS – like the flu – is an airborne virus and can spread easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Health experts say a specialized isolation unit is not needed for treating an Ebola patient. Standard rigorous infection control measures should work at any hospital.

“Ebola is only transmitted through blood and bodily fluids,” he said. “Unlike the flu, like influenza, which we deal with every winter, Ebola cannot be spread through the air.”

Ebola begins with fever, headache and weakness and can escalate to vomiting, diarrhea and kidney and liver problems. In some cases, patients bleed both internally and externally.

Dr. Philip Brachman, an Emory University public health specialist who for many years headed the CDC’s disease detectives program, said Friday that since there is no cure, medical workers will try any modern therapy that can be done, such as better monitoring of fluids, electrolytes and vital signs.

“That’s all we can do for such a patient. We can make them feel comfortable” and let the body try to beat back the virus, he said.

It’s not known how Brantly was infected, but health care workers are among the most vulnerable because of their close contact with sick patients. Brantly’s wife, Amber, and their two children, 3 and 5, had left Liberia for a wedding in the US just days before her husband fell ill and quarantined himself.

Brantly went to medical school at Indiana University and did a four-year residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Last October, he began a two-year fellowship with Samaritan’s Purse to serve as a general practitioner at a mission hospital outside the Liberia capital of Monrovia. He directed the hospital’s Ebola clinic when the outbreak reached that West Africa nation. The Weather Channel

Leave a Reply