Ebola outbreak: Kent Brantly, U.S. aid worker, improving in Atlanta hospital

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 U.S. health official said on Sunday.

1st of 2 American aid workers infected with deadly virus being treated in U.S.

Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly exits an ambulance at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after being flown from Africa. (WSB-TV Atlanta/Associated Press)

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 U.S. health official said on Sunday.
Dr Kent Brantly was able to walk, with help, from an ambulance after he was flown on Saturday to Atlanta, where he is 
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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Frieden told CBS's Face the Nation it was too soon to predict whether Brantly would survive, and a hospital spokesman 
said later that Emory did not expect to provide any updates on the doctor's condition on Sunday. 

Earlier, Brantly's wife said she was pleased her husband was able to walk out of the ambulance when he arrived at the hospital. Fellow aid worker Nancy Writebol was expected to arrive in several days.

Amber Brantly said she had spoken to her husband and he was glad to be back in the U.S. Family members aren't being allowed physical contact with him for now.

Dr. Kent Brantly is one of two American aid workers who have tested positive for the Ebola virus while working to combat an outbreak of the disease at a hospital in Liberia. Brantly is now in an Atlanta hospital, and is said to be improving. (JPS Health Network/Associated Press)

Brantly was the first Ebola victim to be brought to the United States from Africa.

Doctors at Emory University Hospital said they are confident the deadly virus won't escape.

Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, said he could not comment on a treatment plan until Brantly had been evaluated. Since there is no known cure, standard procedures are to provide hydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 700 died from infection since February

Brantly works for the North Carolina-based Christian organization Samaritan's Purse. A second infected member of the group, 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.

Brantly and Writebol were responding to the worst West African Ebola outbreak on record when they contracted the disease. Since February, more than 700 people in the region have died from the infection.

Fear that the outbreak killing more than 700 people in Africa could spread in the U.S. has generated considerable anxiety among some Americans. But infectious disease experts said the public faces zero risk as Emory University Hospital treats a critically ill missionary doctor and a charity worker who were infected in Liberia.

Nancy Writebol is expected to arrive in several days. She will also be treated in Emory's isolation unit for infectious diseases. The unit was created 12 years ago handle doctors who get sick at the CDC, just up the hill. It is one of about four in the country, equipped with everything necessary to test and treat people exposed to very dangerous viruses.

In Canada, the Public Health Agency released a statement Saturday saying it is "working closely with its provincial and territorial partners in health. The Agency's National Microbiology Laboratory is well connected with its network of provincial labs to ensure it is ready to detect and respond quickly in the unlikely event that a case arrives in Canada."

Meanwhile, Dubai-based airline Emirates says it is halting flights to the West African nation of Guinea because of concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus there.

The Mideast's largest carrier said Sunday that flights to the Guinean capital of Conakry were suspended beginning Saturday until further notice.

The airline says it will continue flying to the West African nation of Senegal, which borders Guinea. 

Meanwhile, also Sunday, residents in Monrovia told Reuters that the bodies of two men previously 
showing symptoms of Ebola lay in the streets for four days before being collected by health workers.
"They both gave up and dropped dead on the ground on the street of Clara Town," said resident Nema Red, referring to a district of the Liberian capital.

Both men had shown symptoms of Ebola such as bleeding and vomiting before they died but scared locals had refused to take them to the hospital, she added.
Information Minister Lewis Brown confirmed that the bodies had been collected, although he said they had only been there for a few hours. "I can confirm that the bodies were in the street. They have been removed," he said on Sunday.  

With files from CBC News, Reuters


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