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The US Aid Worker Infected with Ebola Has Arrived Home

The current Ebola epidemic has already infected at least 1,323 people and killed 729 people.

by Liz Fields
Aug 2 2014, 5:25pm

Image via Flickr

One of two American aid workers infected with the Ebola virus while working in Liberia has arrived in Georgia, where he will be soon joined by the other patient to receive specialized care in isolation, aid officials said today.

Kent Brantly, who was working for North Carolina-based Christian charity Samaritan's Purse as a medical missionary at an Ebola treatment center, was the first-ever patient infected with the deadly disease to land on American soil.

A Samaritan's Purse spokeswoman told VICE News Brantly landed at 11:20 AM at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, on Saturday.

The other infected staff member, Nancy Writebol, will arrive two days later and join her colleague, a spokeswoman for Emory University Hospital, the facility where they will be treated, told Reuters.

Bushmeat in the Time of Ebola. Watch the VICE News documentary here.

US medical and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials believe that flying Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, separately into the country poses no risk for the greater public, and that both will receive the best care available.

A spokesman for the CDC told VICE News on Saturday that while there is no cure of Ebola, which can kill up to 90 percent of victims infected, medics will work to treat the symptoms — which typically includes fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting stomach pain, and lack of appetite — to increase the chance of survival.

"It's the progression of the virus is what kills you," CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes said. "The standard treatment is still limited to support or therapy such as balancing patients' fluids and electrolytes, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections."

The two Americans will be housed in specialized isolation units with glass windows and intercoms, through which to interact with family and friends. The precautions will prevent further infection of the virus, which is transmitted by direct contact with blood, body fluids, and tissues of people or animals infected.

Ebola is not contagious until symptoms begin to appear, Haynes said, adding the incubation period for the virus can be anywhere between 2-21 days after exposure, with 10 days being the most common.

"We have a specially designed unit, which is highly contained. We have highly trained personnel who know how to safely enter the room of a patient who requires this form of isolation," Bruce Ribner, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, told Reuters on Friday.

Emory did not immediately return calls from VICE News today.

The current Ebola epidemic, the largest ever in history, has gripped three countries in Western Africa, where it has already left infected at least 1,323 people and killed 729 people, according to the World Health Organization.

On Thursday CDC director Tom Frieden issued its highest warning against traveling to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and urged US citizens not to travel to those countries unless mandatory.

Don't Panic, Yet: We Asked an Ebola Expert About the Possibility of a Pandemic. Read more here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields

Image via Flickr

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