22 August 2014

West Africa: Aid Workers Recover From Ebola

Atlanta — Two American aid workers who contracted Ebola while working for Christian organizations in Liberia have been released from hospital after recovering from the deadly virus.

Dr Kent Brantly's a 33-year-old medical missionary for the Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse said on Thursday August 21, that he was "thrilled to be alive" as doctors declared him virus-free and safe for release, reported Reuters.

"Today is a miraculous day. I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family. As a medical missionary, I never imagined myself in this position." he said.

Dr Brantly's release came two days after a second US missionary, Nancy Writebol, was allowed to leave Emory University Hospital, where both had been treated after contracting the virus in July. The two were separately flown to Atlanta for treatment three weeks ago.

According to a doctor who treated them, the two were each cleared for discharge from the hospital's isolation unit after their symptoms eased and blood and urine tests showed no evidence of the virus.

The pair received an experimental therapy called ZMapp, a cocktail of antibodies developed by the Californian biotech firm, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. but it is not clear if it is responsible for their recovery.

Health experts have cautioned against declaring the drug a medical breakthrough based on two patients. ZMapp was also given to a Spanish priest, who died, and three Liberian health workers, who are showing signs of improvement.

Meanwhile, South African government on Thursday August 21, said non-citizens arriving from Ebola-stricken areas of West Africa; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, would not be allowed into the country a move that has been condemned by World Health Organization (WHO).

Elsewhere, police in Liberia fired live bullets and tear gas during protests in the capital, Monrovia, following a quarantine that was imposed to contain the spread of Ebola. Residents of the capital's West Point slum area were against the barbed wire blockade which they said prevents them from buying food and working.

Ebola is one of the deadliest diseases known to humans and has no cure. The outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history with a fatality rate of 50-60 percent, so far about 2,473 people have been infected and at least 1,350 have died according to WHO.

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