The two United States aid workers who were the first patients ever to be treated for the Ebola virus at a hospital in the US have been released, capping a transcontinental medical drama that stirred public debate about whether citizens with the virus or exposed to the virus should have been allowed to return.
Emory University Hospital, which admitted Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol to a specialized isolation ward earlier this month, said both were discharged after at least two weeks of treatment. Dr. Brantly was released on Thursday, the hospital said, after Ms. Writebol was quietly discharged on Tuesday.
“I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life, and I’m glad for any attention my sickness has attracted to the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic,” Dr. Brantly, who arrived at Emory on Aug. 2 after being evacuated from Liberia, said at a news conference here on Thursday morning, his wife at his side.
Ms. Writebol, who is from North Carolina, did not appear before reporters on the Emory campus, which is near the headquarters of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She arrived in the United States three days after Dr. Brantly after she was flown, as he was, aboard a private air ambulance to a military base northwest of Atlanta.
Dr. Brantly had been working with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian aid organization, in Africa, where an Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 1,200 lives. Ms. Writebol worked for SIM USA, also a Christian aid group.
Meanwhile the World Health Organization reports that clinicians working in Liberia, two doctors and one nurse have now received the experimental Ebola therapy, ZMapp. The nurse and one of the doctors show a marked improvement. The condition of the second doctor is serious but has improved somewhat.
According to the manufacturer, the very limited supplies of this experimental medicine are now exhausted.
ZMapp is one of several experimental treatments and vaccines for Ebola that are currently undergoing investigation. At present, supplies of all are extremely limited.
On 4–5 September, WHO will host a consultation on potential Ebola therapies and vaccines at its headquarters in Geneva. The consultation has been convened to gather expertise about the most promising experimental therapies and vaccines and their role in containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The expertise among the more than 100 participants is wide, ranging from pharmaceutical research and the clinical demands of Ebola care, to expertise on ethical, legal, and regulatory issues. More than 20 experts from West Africa are expected to attend.