Officials at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta revealed Thursday that an unnamed American aid worker infected with the Ebola virus will be flown into the United States for treatment.
The patient will be quarantined in a special isolation unit constructed at Emory, which was set up in tandem with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said her agency was collaborating with the U.S. State Department to coordinate transporting the patient from West Africa.
Two U.S. aid workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, both have confirmed cases of Ebola, which were contracted in Liberia. Brantly and Writebol are both affiliated with the North Carolina-based Christian relief groups Samaritan’s Purse and SIM. A spokeswoman for the groups described their conditions as being “stable but grave”, as of early Thursday morning, but could not confirm if either of them will be transported to Emory.
Here is a clip describing possible precautions that would be taken while medevacing an Ebola patient:
Manifestation of Ebola begins with a sudden onset of an influenza-like stage characterized by general malaise, fever with chills and chest pain. Nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting are also common symptoms. Regarding the central nervous system, victims experience severe headaches, agitation, confusion, fatigue, depression, seizures and sometimes coma.
Those who contract Ebola typically die of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) due to fluid redistribution, hypotension, weakened intravascular coagulation and focal tissue necrosis. The hemorrhaging that comes with the disease is typically not the cause of death.
Healthcare workers are especially susceptible to catching the Ebola virus, and CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden commented that transferring gravely ill patients has the potential to do more harm than good.
There has never been a reported case of Ebola being treated in the United States, though five people have entered the country with either Lassa Fever or Marburg Fever, which are both similar to Ebola.
The Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria is the largest recorded in history, and the disease has a mortality rate of roughly 68 percent. So far, the outbreak has taken over 700 lives, and a vaccination is years away. Yet, the National Institutes of Health is set to begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine on human subjects in mid-September.
Image via Wikimedia Commons