One of two Americans infected with Ebola in West Africa will enter the U.S. for treatment at Emory University in Atlanta “in the next several days,” according to an internal memo sent to physicians on Thursday and seen by The Daily Beast. The memo offers few other details about the patient, with no stated time of arrival or departure city, or indicators as to the exact identity of the patient.
In absence of specifics, the hospital says it’s “prepared and ready” for the arrival, with a “highly specialized, isolated unit” that it designed with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, headquartered nearby. CNN reported that a specialized medical plane was already en route to Liberia on Thursday night.
Staff at the hospital have reportedly been “highly trained” as well and are aware of “unique protocols” that will be necessary to treat the patient.
Vince Dollard, associate vice president of communications for Emory, declined to say who the arriving patient is, exactly, but did confirm that it is either Dr. Kent Brantly or Nancy Writebol, two U.S. charity workers infected in Africa. Both remain in serious condition. Writebol received an “experimental serum” Thursday afternoon while Brantly was given a blood transfusion.
This is the first time a patient infected with the Ebola virus, which can kill up to 90 percent of the people it infects in a matter of days, has been brought to the United States or the Western Hemisphere. The disease is spread via bodily fluids, necesitating strict isolation for the patients and thorough decontamination. Health-care workers like Brantly and Writebol place themselves at great risk to treat diseases like ebola.
In a call with reporters Tuesday, Stephan Monroe, deputy director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the CDC, assured listeners that the outbreak posed “little risk” to America, adding that the chances of anyone infected arriving undiagnosed were slim. In another call Thursday afternoon, CDC Director Tom Frieden said plans were in place to stop Ebola-infected people from boarding planes in West Africa.
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