2nd US missionary with Ebola leaving Liberia

2014-08-04 14:53
Nancy Writebol, with children in Liberia. ( Jeremy Writebol, AP)

Nancy Writebol, with children in Liberia. ( Jeremy Writebol, AP)

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Atlanta - A second American missionary stricken with Ebola is expected to fly on Tuesday to the US for treatment, following a colleague who was admitted over the weekend to Emory University Hospital's infectious disease unit.

A Liberian official confirmed the plans for Nancy Writebol to depart with a medical evacuation team.

The official, Information Minister Lewis Brown, said the evacuation flight was scheduled to leave West Africa between 01:00 and 01.30 local time on Tuesday.

Writebol's son, Jeremy Writebol, said his mother "is still struggling" but that "there seems to be improvement" and that the family is optimistic she will recover amid a spreading Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 729 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The Writebols' mission team partner, Dr Kent Brantly, also was improving on Sunday after he was admitted to Emory's quarantine unit a day earlier, according to a statement from his wife.

"Our family is rejoicing over Kent's safe arrival, and we are confident that he is receiving the very best care", Amber Brantly said, adding that she was able to see her husband on Sunday.

Brantly and Nancy Writebol served on the same mission team treating Ebola victims when they contracted the virus themselves.

Close contact

Brantly was serving as a physician in the hospital compound near Monrovia, Liberia, when he became infected. Writebol worked as a hygienist whose role included decontaminating those entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area at that hospital.

There is no cure for Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever that kills at least 60% of the people it infects in Africa.

Ebola spreads through close contact with bodily fluids and blood, meaning it is not spread as easily as airborne influenza or the common cold.

Africa's under-developed health care system and inadequate infection controls make it easier for the Ebola virus to spread and harder to treat.

Any modern hospital using standard infection-control measures should be able to handle it, and Emory's infectious disease unit is one of about four in the US that is specially equipped to test and treat people exposed to the most dangerous viruses.

Patients are quarantined, sealed off from anyone who is not in protective gear. Lab tests are conducted inside the unit, ensuring that viruses don't leave the quarantined area.

Family members can see and communicate with patients only through barriers.

Brantly arrived Saturday under stringent protocols, flying from West Africa to Dobbins Air Reserve base outside Atlanta in a small plane equipped to contain infectious diseases.

A small police escort followed his ambulance to Emory, where he emerged dressed head to toe in white protective clothing and walked into the hospital on his own power.

Read more on:    liberia  |  ebola  |  west africa

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