Friday 28 November 2014

Dad-of-two who caught deadly Ebola in Africa responds to treatment

Rich McKay

Published 04/08/2014 | 02:30

AN American doctor stricken with the deadly Ebola virus while in Liberia and brought to the United States for treatment in a special isolation ward is improving, the top US health official said yesterday.

Dr Kent Brantly, a 33-year-old father of two young children, was able to walk with help from an ambulance after he was flown on Saturday to Atlanta, where he was being treated by infectious disease specialists at Emory University Hospital.

"It's encouraging that he seems to be improving - that's really important - and we're hoping he'll continue to improve," said Dr Tom Frieden, director of the US Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Frieden said it was too soon to predict whether Brantly would survive, and a hospital spokesman later said Emory did not expect to provide any updates for some time.

Brantly, who works for the North Carolina-based Christian Organisation Samaritan's Purse, had been in Liberia responding to the worst Ebola outbreak on record when he contracted the disease. Since February, more than 700 people in West Africa have died from the infection.

A second US aid worker who contracted Ebola alongside Brantly, 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.

Standard treatment is to provide supportive care. In Atlanta, doctors will try to maintain blood pressure and support breathing, with a respirator if needed, or provide dialysis if patients experience kidney failure, as some Ebola sufferers do.

Despite public concern over bringing in Ebola patients, the CDC's Frieden said the US may see only a few isolated cases in people who have been traveling but did not expect widespread Ebola in the country.

Frieden said it was unlikely that Brantly's wife and children, who left Liberia before he began exhibiting symptoms, had contracted the disease because people who are exposed to Ebola but not yet sick cannot infect others.

Irish Independent

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