One of the two known American Ebola victims is missionary Nancy Writebol. A Liberian government official has confirmed that a medical evacuation team is scheduled early Tuesday to fly Nancy Writebol back to the United States, where she will receive treatment at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital. One of her mission partners, Dr. Kent Brantly, was admitted Saturday at the same institution.
Brantly, 33, is the first known patient with the deadly virus to be treated on U.S. soil. The latter is reportedly doing better after he had received a dose of an experimental serum before he was flown to the United States for treatment. An aid organization that works with them, called Samaritan’s Purse, said there was only enough serum for one more dose and that it went to Nancy Writebol, the other American infected. Currently there’s no cure for this horrible disease.
The serum is based on blood transfused from a young survivor of the virus. “However, Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care. The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life,” president of Samaritan’s Purse, said in a statement.
Ebola doesn’t spread through airborne or waterborne methods. It spreads through direct contact with infected organs and body fluids like blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people. Early symptoms include sudden bursts of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. These later turn into vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, peaking with internal and external bleeding.
According to The World Health Organization, 1,323 people have been infected with Ebola in the current outbreak and 729 people have been killed by it. WHO says Ebola is still out of control in some places and people are also carrying it beyond the borders of the three affected countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says classical safety measures are required to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa. That means finding the sick ones and their contacts, making sure they’re treated, educating the public and doing rigorous infection control in hospitals.
At the hospital where Dr. Brantly treated patients, Nancy Writebol also worked as a hygienist whose role included decontaminating those entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area. Both of them had been engaged in foreign missions for 15 years, with 5 years spent in Ecuador and 9 years in Zambia, where they reportedly worked in a home for widows and orphans.