Two American citizens who were working as aid workers in West Africa have been diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus and will be returning to the U.S. for treatment.
Officials revealed on Friday, August 1, that Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who were working for U.S. missionary groups in Liberia at a hospital that provided treatment for Ebola patients, will be flying back to Atlanta for medical treatment.
One of the aid workers is anticipated to arrive on Saturday, Aug. 2, in an air ambulance which is equipped with a portable tent that is specially designed to ferry patients that are diagnosed with highly infectious ailments. The Gulfstream jet, however, can only transport a single patient at a time. The second patient is expected to arrive a few days later.
"The patients will be escorted throughout by specially and frequently trained teams that have sufficient resources to transport the patients so that there is no break in their medical care or exposure to others," said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
Per the State Department, the patients will be treated at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital at a special medical isolation unit. The transfer of the two affected aid workers to the U.S. is being assisted by the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
This is the first instance when any individual affected with Ebola, which spreads via contact with blood or fluids of the infected, is being brought into the U.S. Concerns are being raised over the disease rearing its ugly head and spreading in the U.S. as well. However, Emory officials assure that the affected patients will be treated in isolation and the public will not be endangered.
"We don't believe there is any likelihood at all of secondary cases as a result of these patients coming to the United States," said Emory's Dr. Bruce Ribner at a press conference. "I have no concerns about my personal health or the health of the other health-care workers who will be working in this unit."
Brantly and Writebol are listed in serious condition and the charity Samaritan's Purse is paying for their medical care and evacuation. An emergency team from Emory reached Liberia to assess their condition and gave the go-ahead that both were stable enough to be taken back to Atlanta for treatment.
On Thursday, July 31, the CDC issued a warning for those traveling to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa, regions that have been battling the Ebola outbreak since February this year. Per the WHO, nearly 60 health care workers have died in trying to treat Ebola patients. An alarming number of 729 individuals have been victims to the current Ebola outbreak that is ravaging West Africa.