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2 American Ebola patients released from hospital

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

By KATIE FOODY

ATLANTA (AP) -- Two American aid workers who were infected with the deadly Ebola virus have been discharged from an Atlanta hospital, where the scene Thursday was festive and celebratory - a stark contrast to the sterile, rushed atmosphere that marked their arrival nearly three weeks ago.

Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and Nancy Writebol, 59, were infected while working at a missionary clinic in the West African nation of Liberia. They were given the experimental drug Zmapp and flown back to the United States for treatment. Brantly was released Thursday, and Writebol quietly walked out of the hospital's isolation unit two days earlier.

"Today is a miraculous day," Brantly said. He walked in to a news conference holding hands with his wife, and a line of workers from Emory University Hospital paraded in and stood behind him.

"I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family," he said, choking up several times as he read a written statement. He and his wife then hugged and shook hands with each staff member. For some, it was the first direct contact they had with their patient. In the isolation unit, Brantly was behind glass and many people treating him wore protective gear.

Brantly and Writebol arrived in Georgia three days apart in a markedly different scene. Each was flown in a specially equipped jet, then driven in police-escorted ambulances. They entered the hospital - Brantly walking, but Writebol wheeled on a stretcher - through a back door as news helicopters hovered above. Wearing bulky medical suits, they were taken quickly to the isolation unit.

Brantly said that back in Liberia, he and his family first got word of the Ebola outbreak in March and "began preparing for the worst." His clinic saw its first patient in June.

Health workers took precautions as more patients came in, Brantly said, but on July 23, "I woke up feeling under the weather, and then my life took an unexpected turn as I was diagnosed with Ebola virus disease." His wife and children had flown back to the U.S. just a few days earlier. Brantly quarantined himself, then got sicker and weaker by the day and was flown out of Liberia on Aug. 2.

"Through the care of the Samaritan's Purse and SIM missionary team in Liberia, the use of an experimental drug, and the expertise and resources of the health care team at Emory University Hospital, God saved my life," he said, referencing the North Carolina-based aid groups for which he and Writebol worked.

But doctors and medical experts say it's not known whether the drug helped or whether Brantly and Writebol improved on their own, as has happened to others who have survived the disease. The treatment is so novel that it hasn't been tested in people.

"Frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference or whether it theoretically delayed their recovery," Dr. Bruce Ribner, head of the infectious disease unit at the Atlanta hospital, said of the Zmapp treatment.

Ribner and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stressed that the Americans' release did not pose a public health risk. Generally patients do not relapse and are not contagious once they've recovered, Ribner said. Neither patient's blood showed evidence of Ebola, the CDC said in a statement. Ebola is spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick people experiencing symptoms.

Still, Writebol was significantly weakened when released and was recuperating at an undisclosed location, her husband said in statement.

"She was greatly encouraged knowing that there were so many people around the world lifting prayers to God for her return to health," David Writebol said.

The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,300 people across West Africa. The death toll is rising most quickly in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization. At least 2,473 people have been sickened in the region - more than the caseloads of all the previous two-dozen Ebola outbreaks combined.

The limited supply of Zmapp has been given to four other infected people: a Spanish missionary priest, who died, and three Liberian health care workers, who are said to be improving.

---

Associated Press writer Jeff Martin contributed to this report.

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tzarolia August 21 2014 at 12:30 PM

God didn't cure the Ebola patients, science did.

Flag Reply +35 rate up
14 replies
Matthew August 21 2014 at 12:10 PM

What an amazing blessing. Glory be to God!

Flag Reply +34 rate up
12 replies
Emanuel August 21 2014 at 12:19 PM

God is good.
All the time.
God is good.

Flag Reply +32 rate up
14 replies
jim August 21 2014 at 12:22 PM

'generally patients do not relapse...." So generally, if they do can they be 'typhoid Marys' and unknowingly spread it before they realize they have relapsed?

Flag Reply +25 rate up
10 replies
harp11754 August 21 2014 at 12:12 PM

I hope these Doctors know what they are doing and the disease is in fact cured, if not................

Flag Reply +24 rate up
8 replies
salmo60 August 21 2014 at 12:17 PM

After hearing and reading how deadly Ebola is, now comes the news that just after three weeks these people are cured? Hummmm, make you wonder if the Doctors at Emory University Hospital are telling the truth?

Flag Reply +22 rate up
14 replies
Karen August 21 2014 at 12:58 PM

I don't quite understand why the comments today made me so angry. Perhaps because I wonder where all the 'praise God for the recovery' types had been when nearly all the comments were hateful and snarky -- or because there are still so many of the troll comments insisting there are 'secrets' untold and conspiracies to still pump. Americans have access to medical care that so far surpasses what volunteer workers in Africa can provide, plus the possibility that this previously untested on humans drug may be a valuable aid in treating Ebola. Of course, the possibility that major drug corporations will put money into producing this drug, if approved, is minimal since they won't be able to charge hundreds of dollars a dose for it. And most native Africans don't have health insurance. The news that these 2 people seem to have been cured of Ebola is wonderful. I hope neither ever reads the comments that were posted while they were struggling for their lives.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
8 replies
jcgreenleaf August 21 2014 at 12:11 PM

Do you think that if you hadcontracted the Ebola virus that YOU would have been given the serum? Would you had even been told about it?

Flag Reply +18 rate up
4 replies
Dick August 21 2014 at 12:03 PM

Wonderful news!!!!

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
Miss Molly Dick August 21 2014 at 12:14 PM

It is indeed!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Kate August 21 2014 at 12:08 PM

I am so glad! Congratulations, Dr.'s Brantly and Whitebol! Terrific news.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
dripquick12 Kate August 21 2014 at 12:50 PM

Nancy Writebol is not a Doctor. It has been reported that she is a Nurse. That is not correct either. She is a Christain woman on a medical mission giving aid to those that n eed it.

God is Good......

Flag Reply 0 rate up
3 replies
dripquick12 Kate August 21 2014 at 5:35 PM

edsmale:

She may be a dental hygenist buy ytat don't make her a Doctor or a Nurse.

She is a Christain woman and was doing Gods work in Liberia.

Thank God for her./

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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