A fourth American aid worker stricken with the Ebola virus arrived early Tuesday in Atlanta for treatment at Emory University Hospital. Two Americans were successfully treated for Ebola at Emory last month.
The patient, whose identity was not released, will be housed in a special isolation unit, according to hospital officials. No additional details were offered.
Though the World Health Organization (WHO) said a doctor who was working in Sierra Leone treating Ebola patients has tested positive for the disease. The doctor was reportedly in stable condition Monday in Freetown ahead of evacuation.
Last month, American aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were treated for Ebola at Emory. A third American, Dr. Rick Sacra, is being treated at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Sacra, from Massachusetts, was able to eat breakfast on Monday for the first time since arriving in Nebraska on Friday, according to his family. He remains in stable condition.
“He hasn’t been able to eat much since he got here, but he had some toast and applesauce,” his wife Debbie Sacra said, AP reported. “He also tolerated the research drug well – better than he had the previous doses he was given.”
Brantly and Writebol were treated with the drug Zmapp, while Sacra is being treated with an experimental drug that doctors will not name, though they say they have been consulting with Ebola experts on his treatment. Zmapp is also considered experimental, yet doctors cannot definitively say if the drug aided the patients’ recoveries.
Sacra was taken to Omaha rather than Atlanta after federal officials asked the Nebraska medical center to treat him in order to prepare other isolation units should there be more Ebola patients.
This year’s outbreak of Ebola has killed at least 2,100 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria, and has also spread to Senegal. The WHO believes it could take six to nine months to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Out of all the nations hit by the disease, Liberia has the highest number of reported Ebola cases and deaths.
“The case-fatality rate, at 58 percent, is also among the highest,” the WHO said. As of September 8, over 1,000 people have died out of nearly 2,000 cases in Liberia.
In an interview with NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that aired on Sunday, US President Barack Obama said that the US military will get involved to combat Ebola in West Africa, helping to set up isolation units and provide security for health workers.
“We’re going to have to get US military assets just to set up, for example, isolation units and equipment there, to provide security for public health workers surging from around the world,” Obama said.
“If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates. It becomes more easily transmittable,” he added, saying the US must treat the outbreak as a “national security priority.”
Pentagon officials said Monday that US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has approved $22 million to set up a 25-bed field hospital in Liberia to treat healthcare workers affected by the disease.
The WHO has criticized international organizations for underestimating the latest Ebola outbreak. Despite its usual aversion to use of a military in cases of outbreak, WHO has said help is needed and that it “will hold the world accountable for responding to this dire emergency with its unprecedented dimensions of human suffering.”