With the Ebola virus sweeping through West Africa and infecting aid workers — including two from the United States, who have since been brought back to this country for treatment — it’s leaving many wondering if there’s a threat of the disease spreading here.
In the above video from Bloomberg News, Columbia University Public Health Professor Dr. Steven Morse and Bloomberg’s Drew Armstrong discuss the risks of the Ebola virus spreading outside of West Africa.
U.S. doctor Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, the two infected Americans, and now in the United States receiving an experimental cocktail treatment that may save their lives.
“This so-called experimental serum is a cocktail of antibodies that have the capability of blocking the virus,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The physicians in charge of the patients’ care made a risk-benefit decision. The risk was less than the potential benefit.”
The drug cocktail the two Americans received, known as ZMapp, was developed by the San Diego company Mapp Biopharmaceutical. It is manufactured in Kentucky using fast-growing tobacco plants, which act as “photocopiers” to produce proteins that are extracted from the plants and processed into the drug, said a spokeswoman for Kentucky BioProcessing, the company that works with Mapp. CNN first reported the name of the serum given to the Americans.
Only time will tell if this cocktail therapy will work. In the meantime, the Bloomberg report above puts things in perspective.
Below, out news partner Reuters offers an update on Writebol’s arrival in the United States.
Second Ebola Patient Arrives in U.S. for More Treatment
By Rich McKay
ATLANTA (Reuters) – A plane carrying a second American aid worker infected with Ebola from West Africa arrived in Maine to refuel on Tuesday and was due to continue to Atlanta so the woman can receive further treatment for the deadly virus.
Missionary Nancy Writebol, 59, departed from Liberia on Monday in a medical aircraft. She was aboard a plane that landed at Bangor International Airport in Maine just after 8 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, television station WCSH of Portland, Maine, reported.
The station carried live coverage of the plane stopping to refuel at the airport.
Writebol’s arrival came a day after Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City said it was testing a man who traveled to a West African nation where Ebola has been reported. He arrived at the emergency room on Monday with a high fever and a stomach ache, but was in good condition, hospital officials said.
The New York City Health Department, after consulting with the hospital and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement on Monday evening that “the patient is unlikely to have Ebola. Specimens are being tested for common causes of illness and to definitively exclude Ebola.”
The patient added to concerns about the disease, which has killed nearly 900 people since February and has no proven cure. The death rate in the current epidemic is about 60 percent, experts say.
Writebol will be treated by infectious disease specialists in a special isolation ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, according to Christian missionary group SIM USA.
The mother of two from Charlotte, North Carolina, is a longtime missionary who had been working for SIM USA as a hygienist who decontaminated protective suits worn by healthcare workers inside an isolation unit at a Monrovia treatment center.
Emory’s specialists have since Saturday been treating 33-year-old U.S. doctor Kent Brantly, who also returned home after being stricken with Ebola during the emergency response to the worst outbreak on record of the virus.
Writebol and Brantly, believed to be the first Ebola patients ever treated in the United States, served on a joint team in Monrovia run by Christian aid groups SIM USA and Samaritan’s Purse. They returned separately because the plane equipped to transport them could carry only one patient at a time.
The pair both saw their conditions improve by varying degrees in Liberia after they received an experimental drug previously tested only on monkeys, a representative for Samaritan’s Purse said.
(Additional reporting by Mark Felsenthal in Washington and Anna Hiatt in New York; Writing by Eric M. Johnson and Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)