American Ebola doctor urges help fighting outbreak

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American Ebola doctor urges help fighting outbreak
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly speaks during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly looks on during a news conference after being released from Emory University Hospital, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Atlanta. Another American aid worker, Nancy Writebol, who was also infected with the Ebola virus, was released from the hospital Tuesday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (R), an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (right), stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (R), stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly speaks during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (left) and his wife, Amber Brantly, get hugs from the medical team that cared for Dr. Brantly during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (L), an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, enters a press conference behind Dr. Bruce Ribner, to talk about his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (left) looks back at his medical care team during a press conference to discuss his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Bruce Ribner (R) announces the release of Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly (2L) with wife, Amber, during a press conference on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly gives a hug to Dr. Bruce Ribner during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (left) and his wife, Amber Brantly (right), get hugs from the medical team, including Dr. George Lyon (center, white jacket) that cared for Dr. Brantly during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (center) stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, and Dr. Bruce Ribner (right) during a press conference announcing his release from Emory Hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly thanked the medical team, his family and Samaritan's purse for their help in his recovery. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 21: Dr. Kent Brantly (R), an Ebola patient at Emory Hospital, stands with his wife, Amber Brantly, during a press conference announcing his release from the hospital on August 21, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brantly and another patient, Nancy Writebol, were released from Emory Hospital after receiving treatment for Ebola that they both contracted while working as medical missionaries in Liberia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly and his wife Amber leave a news conference after being released from Emory University Hospital., Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly stands with his wife, Amber, during a news conference after being released from Emory University Hospital, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Atlanta. Another American aid worker, Nancy Writebol, who was also infected with the Ebola virus, was released from the hospital Tuesday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly, left, embraces Dr. Bruce Ribner, medical director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, after being released from Emory University Hospital, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
The lifeless body of a man lays unattended in the street as locals suspect him of dying from the deadly Ebola virus, as government warns the public not to leave Ebola victims in the streets in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. A second American aid worker infected with Ebola arrived Tuesday in Atlanta, where doctors will closely monitor the effect of an experimental drug she agreed to take even though its safety was never tested on humans. Nancy Writebol arrived from Monrovia, Liberia, in a chartered plane at Dobbins Air Reserve Base and will join Dr. Kent Brantly in the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital, just downhill from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan's Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Brantly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia. (AP Photo/Samaritan's Purse)
Liberia security forces patrol in the West Point area, as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government’s fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Liberia security forces patrol areas around the West Point Ebola center as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government’s fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Liberia security forces blockade an area around the West Point Ebola center as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government’s fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Liberia security forces dressed in riot gear, left, control a crowd of people in the West Point area, as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government’s fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
A Liberian security officer patrols in the West Point area, as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government’s fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Residents from an area close to the West Point Ebola center, protest as they are not allowed to enter the area leading to their homes, after Liberia security forces blocked roads, as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government’s fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents.(AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Health workers receive buckets, as part of their Ebola virus prevention protective gear, at an Ebola treatment center in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Liberia's armed forces were given orders to shoot people trying to illegally cross the border from neighboring Sierra Leone, which was closed to stem the spread of Ebola, local newspaper Daily Observer reported Monday. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Liberian Police dressed in riot gear deploy at a MSF, 'Doctors Without Borders', Ebola treatment center, in the rain, as they provide security in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Liberia's armed forces were given orders to shoot people trying to illegally cross the border from neighboring Sierra Leone, which was closed to stem the spread of Ebola, local newspaper Daily Observer reported Monday. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Liberian Police dressed in riot gear deploy at a MSF, 'Doctors Without Borders', Ebola treatment center as they provide security in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Liberia's armed forces were given orders to shoot people trying to illegally cross the border from neighboring Sierra Leone, which was closed to stem the spread of Ebola, local newspaper Daily Observer reported Monday. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Health workers wearing protective gear go to remove the body of a person who is believed to have died after contracting the Ebola virus in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. New figures released by the World Health Organization showed that Liberia has recorded more Ebola deaths — 413 — than any of the other affected countries. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Emory University Hospital police officers clear traffic at the entrance of the hospital before an ambulance arrives transporting the second American missionary stricken with Ebola in Liberia, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Atlanta. Nancy Writebol is expected to be admitted to the hospital, where she will join another U.S. aid worker, Dr. Kent Brantly, in a special isolation unit. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)
An ambulance arrives at Emory University Hospital, transporting the second American missionary stricken with Ebola in Liberia, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Atlanta. Nancy Writebol is expected to be admitted to the hospital, where she will join another U.S. aid worker, Dr. Kent Brantly, in a special isolation unit. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)
An ambulance transporting a second American missionary stricken with Ebola arrives at Emory University Hospital, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Atlanta. Nancy Writebol is expected to be admitted to Emory University Hospital on Tuesday, where she will join another U.S. aid worker, Dr. Kent Brantly, in a special isolation unit. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
An ambulance transporting Nancy Writebol, an American missionary stricken with Ebola, arrives at Emory University Hospital, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Atlanta. Writebol is expected to be admitted to Emory University Hospital on Tuesday, where she will join another U.S. aid worker, Dr. Kent Brantly, in a special isolation unit. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People gather as Liberian security forces walk past in the West Point area, as the government clamps down on the movement of people to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Security forces deployed Wednesday to enforce a quarantine around a slum in the Liberian capital, stepping up the government’s fight to stop the spread of Ebola and unnerving residents. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)
Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly and his wife Amber leave a news conference after being released from Emory University Hospital., Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
CORRECTS SPELLING OF LAST NAME TO BRANLY, NOT BRANTLEY - Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly, left, embraces Dr. Bruce Ribner, medical director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, after being released from Emory University Hospital, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
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BY KATHLEEN FOODY

ATLANTA (AP) -- As one of few Ebola survivors with medical expertise, Dr. Kent Brantly seems keenly aware of the position his painful experience has put him in. He hasn't spoken yet about his plans, but spent much of his first public appearance pleading for help for countries still struggling with the virus.

"I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life and am glad for any attention my sickness has attracted to the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic," Brantly said Thursday at a news conference before leaving Emory University Hospital, where he and a medical missionary colleague spent three weeks in an isolation unit as they recovered.

"Please continue to pray for Liberia and the people of West Africa, and encourage those in positions of leadership and influence to do everything possible to bring this Ebola outbreak to an end," he added before hugging all the doctors and nurses, a display of affection telegraphing the message that Ebola survivors are not contagious.

With the world watching, Brantly could continue sending these messages from the United States or even return to Africa with his doctors' blessing.

"My family and I will now be going away for a period of time to reconnect, decompress and continue to recover physically and emotionally. After I have recovered a little more and regained some of my strength, we will look forward to sharing more of our story," said Brantly, visibly thinner than he appeared in an image circulated earlier by his charity organization, the North Carolina-based Samaritan's Purse.

Dr. Bruce Ribner, who runs the infectious disease unit at Emory University Hospital, said he would not discourage an Ebola survivor from treating those with the disease, since there is no danger of a relapse.

"There would be no concerns and in fact the likelihood is we would anticipate immunity to this virus so that they would probably not be at risk for infection if they were caring for patients with Ebola virus disease during this outbreak," Ribner said.

Both Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who was quietly released Tuesday, should recover completely, and no one need fear being in contact with them, Ribner said.

Writebol's son, Jeremy Writebol, said in a telephone interview that his mother is able to move around, eat and drink normally. His parents are considering their next steps, he said.

Brantly's reappearance was celebratory, in contrast to his arrival in an ambulance under police escort three weeks earlier, when he shuffled into the hospital wearing a bulky white hazardous materials suit. Both patients were discharged after their blood tested clean of the virus, which is spread only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of sick people experiencing symptoms.

After Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, were infected while working with Ebola victims in Liberia, their charity organizations, Samaritan's Purse and SIM, reached out to top infectious disease experts for help.

Working connections, they obtained one of only five courses available worldwide of an experimental drug known as Zmapp, and Brantly and Writebol split the doses before being evacuated to Atlanta. The other four were later given to a Spanish priest, who died, and three doctors in Africa, who have been improving.

Brantly's doctors cautioned that it's unclear whether the drug or a blood transfusion he got from a young Ebola survivor in Africa helped, hurt or made no difference at all.

"They are the very first individuals to have received this treatment and frankly we do not know," Ribner said.

Brantly didn't take questions at Thursday's news conference, but he did briefly describe how Ebola appeared in Liberia. He said aid workers prepared for the worst after learning of the outbreak in March and saw their first patient in June. Soon, many more arrived.

He said his team took all the precautions they could. Three days after his wife and children returned to the U.S., Brantly woke up feeling sick and was diagnosed with the disease. For nine days, he prayed for faith.

"I serve a faithful God who answers prayers," he said.

There is a huge gap between the treatment these Americans got at Emory, where five infectious disease experts and 21 nurses provided rigorous care, and West Africa, where the virus has killed more than 1,300 people and counting, and even such basics as sterile fluids can be in short supply.

Ribner insisted that bringing them to Atlanta "was the right decision" and said the hospital could decide to take more Ebola patients on a case by case basis.

"We cannot let our fears dictate our actions," Ribner said.

Treating these two patients has already given doctors insights into how to better care for Ebola patients anywhere. For example, they now believe common fluid-replacement measures may not have enough of certain nutrients patients need to recover. Emory physicians say they have begun sharing their findings with other doctors, and hope to publish in a medical journal.

At least 2,473 people have been sickened in this outbreak - more than the caseloads of all the previous two-dozen Ebola outbreaks combined, according to the World Health Organization.

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