Second American With Ebola Improves As She Heads To U.S.

A second American infected with Ebola will arrive in Atlanta tomorrow, and her condition seems to be improving, according to the charity gro...

A second American infected with Ebola will arrive in Atlanta tomorrow, and her condition seems to be improving, according to the charity group she works with.

Nancy Writebol, an aid worker, will arrive in the same jet used to transport Kent Brantly on Aug. 2, according to a statement by the North Carolina-based charity SIM USA. Like Brantly, a doctor, she’ll be treated in an isolation ward at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital.

Both patients were infected while working in an Ebola center in Liberia, one of three West Africa countries reeling from an outbreak that’s sickened at least 1,603 people since March, killing 887, according to the World Health Organization.

“Her husband, David, told me Sunday her appetite has improved,” Bruce Johnson, SIM USA’s president, said today in a statement. “She requested one of her favorite dishes -- Liberian potato soup -- and coffee. We are so grateful and encouraged to hear that Nancy’s condition remains stable and that she will be with us soon.”

Nancy Writebol and her husband were missionaries for the Eustis, Florida-based Rafiki Foundation for 14 years and left around 2012, when they took their current post with the charity called SIM ×USA. While with Rafiki they spent time in Ecuador and Zambia, running an orphanage and school, Karen Elliott, Rafiki Foundation’s executive director said today.

Elliott said she has been staying in touch with David Writebol by e-mail, but didn’t have any first-hand updates of Nancy’s condition. Rafiki is a Christian-based mission and aid group currently working in 10 African countries, Elliott said.

Separate Trip

David Writebol will travel back to the U.S. separately in a few days, SIM said in its statement.

The process of transferring Nancy Writebol will be similar to that used for Brantly, said Alexander Isakov, an emergency physician with Emory University Hospital who was involved in Brantly’s move to the hospital.

During the first trip, “we tried to limit the number of health-care workers who came into contact with the patient,” Isakov said, explaining that only a single paramedic was allowed to touch the patient.

The health-care workers wore special protective suits with two functions, he said, providing a barrier against bodily fluids and providing a powered respirator to filter the air.

“I wasn’t nervous about this at all,” Isakov said about traveling with Brantly.

Brantly’s wife, Amber, said yesterday that her husband was feeling better, and she thanked Emory University Hospital for accepting him for treatment.

‘Good Spirits’

“He is in good spirits,” Amber Brantly said in a statement. “He thanked everyone for their prayers and asked for continued prayer for Nancy Writebol’s safe return, and full recovery.”

Medical care of the two U.S. citizens may take two to three weeks if all goes well, Bruce Ribner, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, said in an Aug. 1 ×news conference. There is no cure for Ebola, although several companies are working on possible drugs that are in testing in animals.

Patients are given fluids, blood transfusions and antibiotics with the hope their immune systems can fight off Ebola’s onslaught.

Thomas Frieden, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he was hopeful on Brantly’s recovery. He also said an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. similar to the one in West Africa is highly unlikely because the U.S. has better infection controls in hospitals and in burial procedures.

‘Never Say Never’

“Could we have another person here, could we have a case or two? Not impossible,” Frieden said. “We say in medicine never say never. But we know how to stop it here.”

Frieden, as part of a tour of Sunday morning talk shows, said on CBS that the most important thing that can be done with the outbreak is “to stop it at the source in Africa. That’s going to protect them and protect us.”

The Atlanta-based CDC, which confirmed the Brantly and Writebol cases are the first ever on U.S. soil, is working with the hospital and transport company to make sure evacuation of the two patients goes safely, said Barbara Reynolds, an agency spokeswoman.

“We’re here to make sure the transportation process and the care here in the U.S. ensures there’s no spread,” Reynolds said. “It’s important to remember this is not an airborne virus, it requires close contact with body fluids. It’s minimal risk as long as the people caring for the patient use meticulous procedures.”

Source: Bloomberg
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