Son of American Ebola patient says mom is 'fighting through it,' dad remains healthy

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By Scott Stump

The son of a North Carolina missionary who is fighting the Ebola virus in Liberia during the worst outbreak in history said she continues to improve in her battle against the deadly disease. 

Nancy Writebol, a missionary from Charlotte working in West Africa to help fight Ebola, was diagnosed with the virus on July 25 and has been receiving care since being isolated in an outbreak that has affected more than 1,200 people in three countries. 

"She's stable,'' her son, Jeremy Writebol, told Matt Lauer on TODAY Wednesday. "As dad put it, she's fighting through it, and continuing to express a few symptoms, but she's able to move around on her own, and they're getting lots of fluids into her. She's working real hard to get through this." 

Writebol's husband, David, also has been working in Liberia alongside his wife with the aid group Serving in Mission, which maintains a hospital that has been treating Ebola patients. He has only been allowed to see his wife through a window since she was isolated but has been in regular contact with their son. He has not been diagnosed with Ebola and has been checking his temperature every six hours to monitor any changes, according to Jeremy. 

"We're concerned, but he's been very healthy right now,'' Jeremy said. "As I talked with him last night, he was feeling fine, working hard, and so we just continue to hope and trust for the best in his case and situation. Everything's been fine, and he's strong and healthy right now." 

Nancy had been assisting many of the doctors who have been in direct contact with Ebola patients when she was diagnosed, and David also has been working to help the local population. The couple had been in the area for ten years, serving as missionaries, and David remains positive.

Jeremy relayed this message from his father: "We are privileged to be here at this time serving the people of Liberia.'' 

One of Writebol's colleagues, Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, a medical director from Texas for the aid group Samaritan's Purse, is also fighting for his life against the virus. Both Writebol and Brantly have reportedly improved "slightly" in the past 24 hours, according to Todd Shearer, spokesman for Samaritan's purse.

"We will continue to focus on praying for Kent,'' his mother, Jan Brantly, told TODAY. 

Samaritan's Purse has been coordinating with U.S. agencies to evacuate their staff from the area, Shearer said.

There has been at least one example of the virus jumping borders, as Minnesota man Patrick Sawyer, 40, an Liberian Finance Ministry employee, boarded a plane from Liberia feeling fine but died days later in Nigeria after the fever hit. His wife, Decontee Sawyer, and three children were expecting him home in Minnesota in August. 

"Ebola came this close to coming," Decontee Sawyer told TODAY. "It missed us this time, but it might not miss us next time." 

Officials say there is the possibility of Ebola spreading to the U.S. through an airline passenger, but the possibility of a domestic outbreak is remote. Several U.S. groups have begun pulling workers out of Africa for precautionary reasons. 

"The risk of having an outbreak in Ebola in the United States is exceedingly unlikely and rare, in part because of the infrastructure that we have for good infection control," Dr. Martin Cetron of the Centers for Disease Control told TODAY.

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