Two gravely ill American medical workers in Liberia who were infected with the Ebola virus are said to be in stable condition as the humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse works to bring them back to the U.S. for treatment.
Dr. Kent Brantly, the second American stricken by the disease, was offered an experimental serum Wednesday but only one dose was provided.
“Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol,” a nurse working with him who also infected, Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse said in a press release. “However, Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care. The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life.”
Sources confirmed to Fox News on Thursday that a medevac plane with the Centers for Disease Control's aeromedical biological containment system onboard was headed for Liberia. There was no scheduled return time for the medevac plane's return.
Also on Thursday, Emory University Hospital announced its plans to transfer a patient with Ebola to a containment unit within the next several days. However, the Atlanta hospital did not say specifically that that patient was one of the two infected Americans.
Samaritan’s Purse is working with the government to bring Brantly and Writebol back to the U.S. for treatment. Graham told Fox News that all agreements are in place and that he hopes they will be on a specially-equipped aircraft back home in a few days. He also noted that the plane will likely have to make a stop for refueling.
The North Carolina-based missionary group ordered the evacuation of all their non-essential personnel from Liberia on Tuesday.
In a statement from Brantly’s family, his wife, Amber, asked for privacy at this time. Amber and the couple’s two children are currently staying at an undisclosed location while they are under “fever watch.” They have not shown any signs of the virus.
“We appreciate so much all the words of comfort and acts of kindness extended to our family,” Amber said in the statement. “This is a challenging time for our family. We will not be speaking to the media at this time. We ask that you respect our privacy.”
In a press conference Thursday, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden stated that, for a patient who is infected, travel may be unsafe.
“There’s the potential that actual movement of the patient could do more harm than befit of more advanced, superior care outside the country [of infection],” he said.
According to Frieden, the decision whether to move infected patients is a “complicated question” the organization that has hired and placed the person must make.
“We would certainly work with them to facilitate whatever operation they wish to pursue,” he said.
With regards to the experimental serum and blood treatment administered to two American patients, Frieden said the CDC does not know the details of what was given. The CDC have not found any evidence that any treatments are effective against Ebola.
“There are no proven treatments, no proven vaccines and there is not likely to be one for at least a year, even in the best case scenario,” he said.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is worsening and is the largest known in history and it will take at least 3-6 months, if everything goes well, to manage the outbreak, Frieden noted.
“It’s not going to be quick, it’s not going to be easy, but we know what to do,” he said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
For a patient who contracts Ebola and is able to recover, once their blood tests normalize and after they no longer show any symptoms, they no longer need to be in isolation.
“It’s a viral infection and viral infections generally, eventually clear,” Dr. Joseph Rahimian, infectious disease specialist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, told FoxNews.com. “So once they’ve made it through their symptoms and their symptoms resolve, within a short time after that, there’s little reason to think they’re going to have an ongoing risk of infection to other people.”