UK & World News

  • 3 August 2014, 15:17

Ebola Doctor Flown Home To US For Treatment

One of two Americans infected with ebola in West Africa has arrived in the US, where doctors say they are confident the deadly virus will not escape.

Dr Kent Brantlywas flown from Liberia, in a specially equipped plane to contain infectious diseases, to Marietta in Georgia, where he will continue to receive treatment in a special isolation unit.

After arriving at Emory University Hospital in an ambulance, the 33-year-old was seen leaving the vehicle dressed head to toe in white protective clothing, with another person in an identical suit who was holding both Dr Brantly'sgloved hands.

Dr Brantly is the first ever ebola patient to be transported to American soil for treatment.

A second US patient, missionary Nancy Writebol, is due to arrive on a later flight as the plane is only equipped to carry one patient at a time.

Dr Brantly'swife Amber, who left Liberia with their two young children for a wedding in the US days before the doctor fell ill, said in a statement: "It was a relief to welcome Kent home today. I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the US.

"I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital."

Fears that the outbreak, which has killed over 700 people in Africa, could spread in the US has raised concerns among some Americans - but infectious disease experts insist the public faces no risk.

The specialist unit at Emory University Hospital was opened more than 10 years ago to care for federal health workers exposed to some of the world's most dangerous diseases.

Dr Bruce Ribner, who will be treating both patients, said: "Nothing comes out of this unit until it is non-infectious.

"The bottom line is: We have an inordinate amount of safety associated with the care of this patient. And we do not believe that any health care worker, any other patient or any visitor to our facility is in any way at risk of acquiring this infection."

Dr Brantlyand Ms Writebolwere described as critically ill after treating ebola patients at a missionary hospital in Liberia, one of three West African countries hit by the largest outbreak of the virus in history.

On Thursday both patients were said to be in a "stable but grave condition".

There is no proven cure for the virus. It kills an estimated 60-80% of the people it infects, but American doctors in Africa say the mortality rate would be much lower in a functioning health care system.

The current outbreak in West Africa has infected 533 people in Guinea; 460 in Sierra Leone; and 329 in Liberia. More than 700 people have died in Africa from the disease this year.

As the virus continues to spread, Britain's leading public health doctor says the outbreak has highlighted the "moral bankruptcy" of the pharmaceutical industry.

Professor John Ashton believes the failure to invest in creating a vaccine is down to the virus being restricted to Africa.

"We must respond to this emergency as if it was in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster," he wrote in The Independent on Sunday.

"We must also tackle the scandal of the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in research [on] treatments and vaccines, something they refuse to do because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don't justify the investment.

"This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of a moral and social framework."

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