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Son: Mother's Ebola should spark push for cure


ATLANTA (AP) -- An American missionary with Ebola is getting better and has received the second dose of an experimental treatment, according to the aid organization she works for in West Africa's Liberia.

Nancy Writebol is expected to be flown to Atlanta's Emory University Hospital on Tuesday, where she will join another U.S. aid worker, Dr. Kent Brantly, in a special isolation unit. Brantly, who was flown to the hospital Saturday, also received the experimental treatment before he left Africa.

The two Americans worked at an Ebola clinic in Liberia, one of three West Africa countries struggling to contain an outbreak of the deadly disease in West Africa. Health care workers are among the most vulnerable because of their close contact with patients.

Writebol, 59, has been in isolation at her home in Liberia since she was diagnosed last month. She's now walking with assistance and has regained her appetite, said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, the Charlotte, North Carolina.-based group that she works for in Africa.

Johnson was hesitant to credit the treatment for her improvement. Brantly's condition has also improved.

"Ebola is a tricky virus and one day you can be up and the next day down. One day is not indicative of the outcome," he said. But "we're grateful this medicine was available."

The experimental treatment is made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego, with funding from the government. The treatment is aimed at boosting the immune system's efforts to fight off the virus. It is made from antibodies produced by lab animals exposed to parts of the Ebola virus.

It's impossible to know what if any role the experimental treatment played in the Americans' improvement- they could have improved on their own, as others who survived Ebola have done.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola, but several are under development. Brantly, who works for the international relief group Samaritan's Purse, also received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy, an Ebola survivor, who had been under his care, according to the group.

In the meantime, dozens of African heads of state were in Washington on Monday for the opening of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a three-day gathering hosted by President Barack Obama. Among the stated purposes: discussing how to help African nations overcome systemic challenges, including disease.

Ebola is considered one the world's deadliest disease, and about 60 percent of the people who have gotten sick in the current outbreak in West Africa have died. More than 1,600 people have been stricken, killing at least 887 of them in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

A Liberian government official has confirmed that a medical evacuation team is scheduled to fly back to the United States early Tuesday with Writebol. Emory said last week that she would be treated there, along with Brantly.

Emory boasts one of the nation's most sophisticated infectious disease units. Patients are sealed off from anyone not in protective gear. Lab tests are conducted inside the unit, ensuring that viruses don't leave the quarantined area. Family members see and communicate with patients through barriers. Ebola is only spread through direct contact with an infected person's blood or other bodily fluids, not through the air.

Writebol and her husband, David, had been in Liberia since last August, sent there by SIM USA and sponsored by their home congregation at Calvary Church in Charlotte.

At the clinic, Nancy Writebol's duties included disinfecting doctors and nurses entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area. Their pastor, the Rev. John Munro, said David Writebol had administrative and technical duties.

The couple has been involved in foreign missions for 15 years, spending five years in Ecuador and nine years in Zambia, where Munro said they worked in a home for widows and orphans.

"Her husband, David, told me Sunday her appetite has improved and she requested one of her favorite dishes - Liberian potato soup - and coffee," Johnson said.

The Writebol's son, Jeremy, after talking with his father Sunday, said it's clear his mother "is still suffering," but said the family remains optimistic.

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, also in Atlanta, say they've gotten some blowback for bringing Ebola cases to an American hospital. But Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, emphasized again Sunday that there is no threat to the public in the United States.


Hegeman reported from Wichita, Kansas. Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal and Medical Writer Mike Stobbe contributed from New York.


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cgssnavickas August 04 2014 at 11:03 AM

Let me get this straight: There are no known antidotes for killing the ebola virus. It continues to spread on the African continent. We're sending over missionaries to stop the virus from spreading. The missionaries get infected, thus bring it back to them to the United States. In the meantime, all measures to keep the virus from spreading are ineffective. The virus come to the United States, thus spreading it. What is wrong with this picture?

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15 replies
eaglephoenix2 August 04 2014 at 11:01 AM

Viruses mutate, especially when contracted and spread thru the population. That's how they survive and get stronger. How did 2 workers familiar with protocol and safety standards get this unless it has gone thru some sort of mutation? But, the media says it's contained. And they know best. ;=)

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10 replies
msdjsjski August 04 2014 at 11:10 AM

The new plague is now on our soil. Our government has accomplished the goal of all those terrorist that have been out to destroy us for them.

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4 replies
ktz1017 August 04 2014 at 11:14 AM

To all of you fearmongers commenting. Ebola CAN be treated successfully. Part of the reason for the widespread movement of this disease in West Africa is that they lack the sophisticated medical services offered here in the U.S. These patients, US citizens by the way, trying to help in a situation you are just sitting in your living room judging (incorrectly) about. Hospital and medical staff, particularly at Emory which has THE BEST infectious diseases treatment system in the world knows what they are doing. The doctor and Mrs. Whitebol when she gets here are isolated, only treated by people in biohazard gear, contained in an area of the hospital not connected to other parts of the hospital, and as the article stated, even their lab work is done in the quarantined area so grow up, try to find some compassion and pray that some day your heart too, grows three sizes too big.

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26 replies
Mike August 04 2014 at 11:09 AM

What we need to cure is stupid and this situation smacks of stupid all around.

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2 replies
Sarah Mike August 04 2014 at 1:36 PM

The "CURE," Mike - is at the BALLOT BOX - starting with HUGE Ground SWELL of VOTERS:
(1) Capable of being RESPONSIBLE,
(2) Capable of THINKING individually,, (3) REASONING,
(6) FINDING CANDIDATES who uphold our CONSTITUTION, honor their OATHS.

Making sure welfare is only for those who truly have a need for it - NOT for a way of LIFE or VOTERS for their Living!

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2 replies
Truwriter Sarah August 04 2014 at 2:30 PM

all very nice words but the Tea Party will split the GOP vote and put Hillary in the White House. The TP is Obama/Hillary's strongest weapon.

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P Rose65 Sarah August 04 2014 at 2:47 PM

LOL.. You list a few common ways Republicans have successfully pandered to voters. Obviously you have internalized alot of the self righteous delusional hogwash of the right wing noise machine.
Your groundswell of noisy angry simpletons need to take your teabags and use them to plug your pie holes so the adults can talk.

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tho1500 Mike August 04 2014 at 3:20 PM

...And hope there is a cure for stupid...

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michelle August 04 2014 at 11:22 AM

But Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, emphasized again Sunday that there is no threat to the public in the United States.

Why do I have a bad feeling that he will be eating those words? Should have never brought the virus to the states. I don't trust the CDC any further than I can throw them. Didn't they lose track of vials of deadly viruses such as anthrax and bird flu in July? Doesn't breed confidence in the system.

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3 replies
rimit9 August 04 2014 at 11:38 AM

Just another gift from Africa, Thanks.

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2 replies
cgssnavickas rimit9 August 04 2014 at 12:02 PM

If memory serves, they also generously gave us the gift of AIDS.

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2 replies
skyofblue17 cgssnavickas August 04 2014 at 2:02 PM

I thought a gay Canadian flight attendant flew himself along with his aids virus into the U.S. borders. So we can blame Canada instead of Africa for that one.

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Carol cgssnavickas August 04 2014 at 2:26 PM

cgssnavickas - Ahh yes AIDS, the gift that keeps on giving. But the CDC assured us that it was a disease that could be avoided by using safe/careful sex and IV drug practices. But then there was that one small mistake they made in not screening it out of blood transfusions. That cost a dear (hemophiliac) friend of mine his life. But I'm SURE they won't make a mistake with Ebola

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kcarthey rimit9 August 04 2014 at 12:26 PM

Perhaps it is in response for the Americas passing on syphilis to the world.

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1 reply
Carol kcarthey August 04 2014 at 2:11 PM

kcarthey - Syphilis came from Europe

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rimit9 August 04 2014 at 11:05 AM

When you lay with dogs, you catch fleas.

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4 replies
rhnconsult August 04 2014 at 11:24 AM

Totally wrong headline as usual, she ain't no "doctor", she is a missionary from the Great Red State of North Carolina. Now she needs saving by the taxpayers. great

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4 replies
Seth Jernigan August 04 2014 at 1:47 PM

Obama is letting Ebola into America on purpose. As your family and friends are dying all around you remember to thank a liberal

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4 replies
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