US doctor with Ebola transferred to Atlanta for treatment
By Ray Henry and Mike Stobbe, AP
August 4, 2014, 12:04 am TWN
ATLANTA--The Ebola virus has killed more than 700 people in Africa and could have catastrophic consequences if allowed to spread, world health officials say. So why would anyone allow infected Americans to come to Atlanta?
The answer, experts say, is because Emory University Hospital is one of the safest places in the world to treat someone with Ebola. There's virtually no chance the virus can spread from the hospital's super-secure isolation unit.
And another thing, they say: medical workers risking their lives overseas deserve the best treatment they can get.
Dr. Kent Brantly became the first person infected with Ebola to be brought to the United States from Africa. He arrived Saturday at one of the nation's best hospitals. Fellow aid worker Nancy Writebol was expected to arrive in several days.
“I hope that our understandable fear of the unfamiliar does not trump our compassion when ill Americans return to the U.S. for care,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His agency received “nasty emails” and at least 100 calls from people questioning why the sick aid workers should be let into the United States.
Despite the calls and messages directed to the CDC, few of those nearest the hospital Saturday seemed concerned.
“I just think it's a blessing that we can help possibly make the infected person's life a little more tolerable,” said Ashley Wheeler, who was shopping just down the street on Saturday. “If I were that person I would want my country to help me the best way they could.”
Emory's infectious diseases' unit was created 12 years ago to handle doctors who get sick at the CDC. It is one of about four in the country equipped with everything necessary to test, treat and contain people exposed to very dangerous viruses.
In 2005, it handled patients with SARS, which unlike Ebola can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
In fact, the nature of Ebola — which is spread by close contact with bodily fluids and blood — means that any modern hospital using standard, rigorous, infection-control measures should be able to handle it.
Still, Emory won't be taking any chances.