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Africa

US doctor infected with Ebola arrives home for treatment

© AFP / Jessica McGowan / Getty images North America

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-08

An American doctor who contracted the deadly Ebola virus while doing humanitarian work in West Africa was flown to the US on Saturday, where he was immediately taken to an isolation unit at an Atlanta hospital.

The medical aircraft carrying Dr. Kent Brantly landed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, in the state of Georgia, just before 11:50 a.m. (15:50 GMT). Brantly was driven by ambulance, with police escort, to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where he will be treated in a cutting-edge isolation unit.

Television news footage showed three people in white biohazard suits step gingerly out of the ambulance. Two of them walked into the hospital, one seeming to lean on the other for support.

Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, said he could not comment on a treatment plan until Brantly had been evaluated. Since there is no known cure, standard procedures are to provide hydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids, according to the World Health Organization.

Brantly works for the North Carolina-based Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse. A second infected member of the group, missionary Nancy Writebol, will be brought to the United States on a later flight, as the medical aircraft is equipped to carry only one patient at a time.

First Ebola case on US soil

Brantly's arrival marks the first time a patient infected with Ebola has been treated anywhere in the United States, causing considerable anxiety among some Americans.
Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people. With a mortality rate approaching 90 percent in Africa, it’s one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received “nasty emails” and at least 100 calls from people saying “How dare you bring Ebola into the country!?” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told The Associated Press Saturday.

However, infectious disease experts said the public faces zero risk as Emory University Hospital is equipped with everything necessary to test and treat people exposed to very dangerous viruses. Emory’s isolation room is one of only four such facilities in the United States and is located near the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

'Zero risk for the public'

Inside the unit, patients are sealed off from anyone who doesn’t wear protective gear.
Air flows into the unit, but can’t escape until filters scrub any germs from patients. All laboratory testing is conducted within the unit, and workers are highly trained in infection control. Glass walls enable staff outside to safely observe patients, and there’s a vestibule where workers suit up before entering. Any gear is safely disposed of or decontaminated.

Just down the street from the hospital, people dined, shopped and carried on with their lives Saturday. Several interviewed by the AP said the patients are coming to the right place.

“We’ve got the best facilities in the world to deal with this stuff,”said Kevin Whalen, who lives in Decatur, Georgia and has no connection to Emory or the CDC. “With the resources we can throw at it, it’s the best chance this guy has for survival. And it’s probably also the best chance to develop treatments and cures and stuff that we can take back overseas so that it doesn’t come back here."

FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP

Date created : 2014-08-03

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