Doctor treating American Ebola patient '100 percent confident' about safety

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By Eun Kyung Kim

A doctor treating the first Ebola victim in the United States said he was “thrilled” to see the patient walk into an Atlanta hospital facility, which he assured TODAY viewers on Monday is built to contain communicable diseases “far more infectious than Ebola.”

“We’re going above and beyond what’s necessary to contain this virus,” said Dr. Jay Varkey with the infectious disease unit at Emory Hospital.

Varkey is working with a team treating Kent Brantly, an American doctor who came down with Ebola while treating patients in Africa. He returned to the United States on Saturday on a specially-equipped jet and then was transported on ground in carefully-fitted ambulance. However, he surprised many when he walked into the hospital, with assistance. He wore a completely enclosed hazardous material suit.

Ebola has infected 1,440 people so far, killing 826 of those victims, according to world health statistics.

Varkey addressed safety concerns raised by many over the CDC's decision to transport Brantly back to the United States:

  • “I’m 100 percent confident with the procedures we have in place. The key thing again about this unit is that it was designed 12 years ago to contain communicable diseases far more infectious that Ebola. SARS is actually an excellent example of a disease that’s far more infectious than Ebola."
  • Ebola, he said, is "not particularly infectious. The key issue is to make sure that meticulous procedures are in place to make sure that the virus doesn’t spread, which is why he’s here at Emory."
  • Americans need to think of "Ebola as a spectrum of diseases. There are people who recover there are people who have terrible outcomes. We’re hoping to do our best, that Dr. Brantly not only walks into the hospital, but walks out of the hospital in the condition that he should be in.”

Varkey could not disclose anything about Brantly’s condition, at the request of his family, but the patient’s wife said in a statement he was in “good spirits.” 

Another statement from Samaritan’s Purse, the charity Brantly worked for in Africa, also said the doctor’s condition continues to improve: “We can confirm that Kent was able to receive a dose of the experimental serum prior to leaving Liberia,” the group said.

Brantley received a second dose of the serum after arriving in the United States, NBC News reported. He was described as clinically stable Monday, with a lower fever and improvement in other symptoms.

Among those who have vocally spoken against Brantly's return to the United States has been Donald Trump, who took to Twitter several times to say that Americans with Ebola should stay away until they have recovered.





Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Google+ or on Twitter.