First Ebola patient returns to U.S. for treatment

An American doctor who was infected with Ebola during a humanitarian mission in West Africa has returned to the U.S. for treatment, according to news reports. 

His arrival home has stirred public unrest that the deadly epidemic could spread around the country, but physicians treating him in Atlanta say they can contain the disease and prevent it from infecting anymore people here. 


According to Centers for Disease Control director Tom Frieden, a U.S. outbreak is "not in the cards."

Frieden and other medical professionals say the disease, which can be deadly to those who contract it, is actually not very contagious, because it is not spread through the air, but rather through bodily fluids such as blood, urine and saliva. 

"We have taken every precaution that we know and that our colleagues at the CDC know to ensure that there is no spread of this virus pathogen," said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who will be treating the patient at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, according to The New York Times.

Dr. Kent Brantly arrived safely in the country today, landing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base outside Atlanta, before being transferred to Emory University Hospital, where doctors have set up a special unit intended to contain the disease. 

Brantly is the first of two Americans who have contracted Ebola to be flown to Atlanta for treatment. The other aid worker, Nancy Writebol, will be flown to Emory in the coming days. 

Doctors say Brantly and Writebol will be isolated from other patients at the hospital while friends and family will not be allowed to enter the room, in an effort to contain the disease and prevent an Ebola breakout here. The doctors and nurses who will be treating workers volunteered for the assignment.

The two are believed to be the first people with the disease to ever be allowed into the country so they can be treated at U.S. hospitals. 

An Ebola outbreak has ravaged West Africa, infecting more than 1,300 people, about 700 of whom have died since February, according to reports. Brantly and Writebol contracted the disease while working at a Liberian hospital.

The CDC and world health experts are on high alert, hoping to prevent any further spread of the disease.

Still, some have suggested the return of the American aid workers increases the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S., a notion that the CDC and the doctors at Emory dispute.

"If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives, but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries," said Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization.