Posted on August 2, 2014 at 11:58 AM
Saturday, Aug 2 at 12:00 PM
MARIETTA, GA -- One of two American doctors infected with Ebola landed in the USA on Saturday, the first time anyone infected with the deadly virus has been brought into the country.
A plane carrying Dr. Kent Brantly landed around 11 a.m. Saturday at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga., where he was set to be transferred to a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.
A second American infected with the virus, Nancy Writebol, is expected to arrive within a few days. Brantly and Writebol were serving in Liberia as medical missionaries when they became infected by the virus.
Doctors are confident the two can be treated without putting the public in danger. The hospital is located just down the hill from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is one of only four sites in the USA capable of handling high-risk patients infected with serious, infectious diseases.
"We have an inordinate amount of safety involved ... no one is in any way at risk," said Emory University's Dr. Bruce Ribner, who will oversee the isolation unit. "You need to appreciate Ebola is not spread by some magic mechanism."
Earlier this week, an Emory emergency medical team evaluated the patients in Liberia, deeming both stable enough for the trip to Atlanta, Ribner said. Officials said the Americans would travel on a Gulfstream jet fitted with a collapsible, clear tent built to transfer CDC employees exposed to contagious diseases.
Nancy Writebol of Charlotte is a medical missionary with Service in Mission. She was working at a medical center in Liberia when she was diagnosed with Ebola. Her husband, David, has been allowed to visit her while wearing a suit to protect against hazardous materials.(Photo: Service in Mission)
Brantly, 33, of Fort Worth, had been working in Liberia for Samaritan's Purse overseeing an Ebola treatment center. Writebol, of Charlotte, was working at the center on behalf of the faith group Service in Mission. Samaritan's Purse is paying for their evacuation and medical care.
The patients will be treated in an isolation unit at the hospital that has its own laboratory equipment so samples don't have to be sent to the main hospital lab. The facility is carefully separated from other patient areas, said Dr. Eileen Farnon, a Temple University doctor who formerly worked at the CDC and led teams investigating past Ebola outbreaks in Africa.
"If there's any modern therapy that can be done," such as better monitoring of fluids, electrolytes and vital signs, workers will be able to do it better in this safe environment, said Dr. Philip Brachman, an Emory University public health specialist who for many years headed the CDC's disease detectives program.
"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.
Ebola is considered one of the world's deadliest diseases. The current outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has sickened more than 1,300 people and killed more than 700 this year.
The virus is spread through direct contact with blood, urine, saliva and other bodily fluids from an infected person. It is not spread through the air so it is not as infectious as a germ like the flu.
Contributing: WXIA in Atlanta; Doug Stanglin; Associated Press