An American aid worker infected with the deadly Ebola virus while in Liberia was being treated at an Atlanta hospital in a special isolation unit on Sunday.
A medical aircraft carrying Dr. Kent Brantly landed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia late Saturday morning. Brantly then was driven by ambulance to Emory University Hospital for treatment.
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.
Brantly and Writebol were responding to the worst West African Ebola outbreak on record when they contracted the disease. Since February, more than 700 people in the region have died from the infection.
Despite concern among some in the United States over bringing Ebola patients to the country, health officials have said there is no risk to the public.
The facility at Emory, set up with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is one of only four in the country with the facilities to deal with such cases.
Ebola is a hemorrhagic virus with a death rate of up to 90 percent of those who become infected. The fatality rate in the current epidemic is about 60 percent.
Brantly is a 33-year-old father of two young children. Writebol is a 59-year-old mother of two.
CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said that the agency was not aware of any Ebola patient being treated in the United States previously.
The two Americans will be treated primarily by a team of four infectious disease physicians. The patients will be able to see loved ones through a plate-glass window and speak to them by phone or intercom.
A senior official within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told Reuters the agency would consider proposals for providing treatments under special emergency new drug applications, if the benefits of the treatment outweighed the potential safety risks.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Matt Driskill)