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California-Trained Doctor Helps Keep Liberian Hospital Open During Ebola Crisis

While many run from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, some brave souls are running toward the region to help. Dr. James Appel is one of those. Trained in the Inland Empire at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, he's been working for Adventist Health International at hospitals in Chad for the last decade. Last week, Dr. Appel flew to Liberia to keep the doors open at Cooper Adventist, a small hospital in the capitol, Monrovia.

Petaluma Slaughterhouse Indicted for Selling Condemned Beef

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PBS NewsHour

American doctor speaks out about his Ebola recovery

eboladoctor

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, some good news in what has been a very troubling story.

An American doctor who contracted Ebola in West Africa was discharged from an Atlanta hospital today. He and the hospital staff spoke to reporters after his release.

(APPLAUSE)

JUDY WOODRUFF: A smiling Dr. Kent Brantly was greeted by applause inside Atlanta’s Emory University hospital, where doctors today announced the 33-year-old had made a full recovery after being infected with the Ebola virus while working in a hospital in Liberia.

DR. KENT BRANTLY: Today is a miraculous day. I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Standing alongside the medical team that treated him, Brantly recalled the first day of what would be a near-month-long battle for his life.

DR. KENT BRANTLY: On Wednesday, July 23, I woke up feeling under the weather, and then my life took an unexpected turn as I was diagnosed with Ebola virus disease.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On August 2, Dr. Brantly was admitted to Emory University Hospital after being flown out of Liberia.

DR. KENT BRANTLY: Thank you to Emory University Hospital, and especially to the medical staff in the isolation unit. You treated me with expertise, yet with such tenderness and compassion. For the last three weeks, you have been my friends and my family.

And so many of you ministered to me not only physically, but also spiritually, which has been an important part of my recovery. I will never forget you and all that you have done for me. And thank you to my family, my friends, my church family, and all who lifted me up in prayer, asking for my healing and recovery.

Please do not stop praying for the people of Liberia and West Africa, and for a quick end to this Ebola epidemic.

JUDY WOODRUFF: After his remarks, Brantly and his wife hugged each one of the physicians and nurses that cared for him.

Dr. Bruce Ribner, medical director of the hospital’s infectious disease unit, touched on the bond his team developed with Brantly.

DR. BRUCE RIBNER, Emory University Hospital: There was a very strong emotional, as well as health care interaction that occurred. If the hugging transmit the message that we don’t think he’s contagious, I think that would be accurate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Ribner also said that 59-year-old Nancy Writebol, who was also being treated at Emory for Ebola, had been discharged earlier this week. At her request, her departure wasn’t announced at that time.

DR. BRUCE RIBNER: The medical staff here at Emory is confident that the discharge from the hospital of both of these patients poses no public health threat. Ebola virus is a new infection on this continent, but our colleagues across the ocean have been dealing with it for 40 years now, and so there is strong epidemiologic evidence that, once an individual has resolved Ebola virus infection, they are immune to that strain, recognizing that there are five different strains of Ebola virus.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Both Brantly and Writebol received treatment with the experimental drug ZMapp while in Liberia, but the Emory team said the role it played in their treatment is unknown.

DR. BRUCE RIBNER: They are the very first individuals to ever receive this agent. There is no prior experience with it. And, frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference, or even theoretically if it delayed their recovery.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ribner went on to say his staff would pass along guidelines to those doctors still fighting Ebola in West Africa.

DR. BRUCE RIBNER: We are in the process of working with a number of medical journals and other organs to disseminate the observations that we made in the care of these two patients.

The providers in Africa will be able to read the article we read — we write, but, in addition, we are planning to make some provider-specific information available to them. So, again, we are hopeful that what we have learned here will assist our colleagues in Africa in caring for these critically ill patients.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Kent Brantly told reporters he will take some time off with his family before addressing the media again. But doctors will continue to monitor him and Nancy Writebol through follow-up visits.

Online, we take a look at the Ebola virus at the molecular level to explain what makes it so deadly. You can read that on our Science page.

The post American doctor speaks out about his Ebola recovery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Both U.S. patients stricken with Ebola released from hospital

Dr. Kent Brantley, the U.S. missionary who was stricken with the Ebola virus in Liberia, spoke upon his release from Emory University Hospital Thursday. Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of the hospital’s Infectious Disease Unit, answered questions about Brantley’s treatment.

Nancy Writebol, the missionary stricken with the Ebola, was tested clear of the virus and discharged from Emory University Hospital on Tuesday. She and her husband, David, have gone to an undisclosed location to rest. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse[/caption]Nancy Writebol, the U.S. missionary stricken with Ebola while serving in Liberia, was discharged from an Emory University Hospital isolation room in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Nancy Writebol, the missionary stricken with the Ebola, was tested clear of the virus and discharged from Emory University
         Hospital on Tuesday. She and her husband, David, have gone to an undisclosed location to rest. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s
         Purse

Nancy Writebol, the missionary stricken with the Ebola, was tested clear of the virus and discharged from Emory University Hospital on Tuesday. She and her husband, David, have gone to an undisclosed location to rest. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Dr. Bruce Ribner, medical director of the hospital’s Infectious Disease Unit, announced Thursday that Writebol was cleared by the hospital and the Center for Centers for Disease Control.

Ribner also announced that fellow Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantley, who served with Writebol in Liberia, will be discharged today.

Brantley spoke at a news conference at the hospital: “Today is a miraculous day,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be alive and well and to be reunited with my family.”

Brantley and Writebol served for the Christian organization, Samaritan’s Purse, in Monrovia, Liberia. They were flown to Atlanta to be treated for the deadly disease earlier this month.

As of Aug. 18, the Ebola virus has killed more than 1,350 people in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, according to the latest numbers released by the World Health Organization.

Read more about how Ebola is spread.

The post Both U.S. patients stricken with Ebola released from hospital appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Doctors Without Borders: Ebola efforts need more people in the field

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the challenge of containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Jeffrey Brown has that.

JEFFREY BROWN: The World Health Organization today said the epidemic’s official death toll now tops 1,200, amid growing concern that local resources of all kinds are being strained to the limit.

Over the weekend, the aid group Doctors Without Borders opened its largest facility yet for treating Ebola victims, near the Liberian capital of Monrovia.

The president of Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Joanne Liu, just returned from the region last week. I spoke with her earlier today from the New York Times newsroom.

Dr. Liu, thank you for joining us.

Let me ask you about the new treatment center what you are and are not able to do on the ground right now. What kind of treatment are people actually getting?

DR. JOANNE LIU, President, Doctors Without Borders: Well, in our Ebola medical center, what we offer is treatment in terms of support treatment to patients who are infected.

So the way it works in our center, we have 120 beds. We have an area of suspected case, probable case and confirmed case. And what we do for patients who are confirmed is we ensure that they are well-hydrated. We give them antibody if they have infections. And we’re making sure that they have as well some painkillers.

JEFFREY BROWN: There’s been a continuing problem of persuading people to seek treatment amid so much fear and doubt about the disease itself, even to the point of a riot to shut down one clinic. How dangerous is this and how is it being addressed?

DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, this is something that we have been facing since the beginning. And this is a normal, I would say, human reaction.

Fear has been a constant, I will say, challenge, because if people do not understand what is Ebola, what are the sign of it, and what can we do for it, they will continue to have some sort of behavior that seems to be rational from a distance.

But the reality is what we need to do now is to increase the health promotion and the understanding about what is Ebola.

JEFFREY BROWN: How hard is it to reach people, and how exactly are you and others doing that?

DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, I think it’s a challenge, for sure.

And right now, we need to mobilize more people to do it. And it needs to happen at the central level. I think we should have a standardized message in terms of what is Ebola, how to prevent it, make sure that we are implementing the universal precaution everywhere. And this needs to happen at all levels, centrally and the — centrally in the country.

JEFFREY BROWN: In the meantime, there are reports that the outbreak is having a dangerous impact on the larger health system in these countries. Are you seeing that?

DR. JOANNE LIU: Yes.

This is what I call the emergency within the emergency, so the Ebola and the consequences of Ebola. And one of the things we have been facing is the collapse of the health care system. Right now, most of the health care facilities are being closed in Monrovia.

And we’re facing the very distressing and — event of the fact that patients don’t have access to basic health care. We saw six pregnant women not being able to deliver over the last week and lost their babies. We saw children with malaria not able to find treatment for their malaria

JEFFREY BROWN: And they’re just coming into the height of the malaria season, right?

DR. JOANNE LIU: Yes. The rainy season has just started.

And this is why I am bringing it up. So, this is why, today, there needs to be increased capacity in the field to respond to Ebola in terms of health promotion, surveillance, contact tracing, safe burial, and treatment. But as well we need to bring some capacity to restore some basic health care access to the general population.

JEFFREY BROWN: Several days ago, your organization put out a release saying the response to the epidemic remains — quote — “dangerously inadequate.”

There have been at least some positive signs in recent days and hopes of perhaps stopping a wider spread. Can you update this for us? Where are we now in terms of the overall response?

DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, it’s difficult to say, because I think there’s more capacity — or promises of capacity that is going to be sent.

And the thing is, as far as I’m concerned, until it translates into concrete action in the field, I will wait to comment on this. But I think people are more mobilized. But we need to get people with hands-on in the field who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work, not being behind computer.

We need operational people. They are going to go from house to house to explain what is Ebola. They’re going to go from house to house to go find out where are the contact tracing. That’s what we need. We need people in the field who’s going to do the legwork.

JEFFREY BROWN: And is that effort coordinated well enough between groups like yours and respective the governments and the international community? Because there have been some worries about that.

DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, right now, there is some — they call task force, but the reality, there is not that many players in the field.

It’s not like after a natural disaster, where we have basically the full international community coming and giving a hand. Right now, it’s only a few people who have a response to the call. But the reality, of course we need to be coordinated. And this needs to happen centrally with the government. And I think the WHO needs to step up to the plate to do its job.

JEFFREY BROWN: There are new numbers out today about death toll topping 1,200. There are also though concerns that the actual numbers are vastly underreported.

Does that worry you?

DR. JOANNE LIU: Well, we have some concern about the figures, because the reality, we are not able to do the data collection everywhere in the country, if we take, for example, Liberia.

So, we think it might be underestimated. We hear a lot about some death in the communities, but this has not been checked. And we don’t have the capacity today to go and check to find out if they were deaths secondary to Ebola.

JEFFREY BROWN: Dr. Joanne Liu of Doctors Without Borders, thank you so much.

DR. JOANNE LIU: Thank you very much.

The post Doctors Without Borders: Ebola efforts need more people in the field appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

As Ebola fatalities hit 1,200, some victims on ZMapp show signs of recovery

Local residents gather around a very sick Saah Exco, 10, in a back alley of the West Point slum on August 19, 2014 in
         Monrovia, Liberia. The boy was one of the patients that was pulled out of a holding center for suspected Ebola patients when
         the facility was overrun by a mob on Saturday. A local clinic Tuesday refused to treat the boy, according to residents, because
         of the danger of infection, although the boy was never tested for Ebola. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Local residents gather around a very sick Saah Exco, 10, in a back alley of the West Point slum on August 19, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. The boy was one of the patients that was pulled out of a holding center for suspected Ebola patients when the facility was overrun by a mob on Saturday. A local clinic Tuesday refused to treat the boy, according to residents, because of the danger of infection, although the boy was never tested for Ebola. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The world’s worst outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has now claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. While the disease has carved a destructive path through several West African nations, Liberia recorded the highest number of new deaths: a total of 53 between Aug. 14-16.

Amid the overwhelming death toll, the Liberian government shared promising news: three of the country’s health workers being treated with experimental drug ZMapp have shown signs of improvement.

Moreover, Nancy Writebol — one of the two Americans being treated for the virus — was also improving, according to her husband David Writebol.

“I have had the great joy to be able to look through the isolation room glass and see my beautiful wife again,” Mr. Writebol said in a statement. “She was standing with her radiant smile, happy beyond words. She is continuing to slowly gain strength, eager for the day when the barriers separating us are set aside and we can simply hold each other.”

Despite these reassuring cases, medical experts warn that the drug has never been tested in humans and has yet to be proven effective. Even if it were, the drug’s manufacturer Mapp Biopharmaceuticals has said that its already limited supplies are currently exhausted and more won’t be available for months.

Experts still say that the best way to prevent the virus from spreading is to identify and isolate infected individuals.

Liberia is attempting to do just that. Their efforts were thwarted on Saturday when residents in the country’s capital attacked a center where people were being monitored for Ebola, causing possibly infected individuals to flee. But authorities announced Tuesday that all patients still missing had been found and moved to a hospital, where they are being screened and treated.

For more updates on the Ebola epidemic and what’s being done to help, tune into the PBS NewsHour tonight to watch our interview with Dr. Joanne Liu, International President for Doctors Without Borders.

The post As Ebola fatalities hit 1,200, some victims on ZMapp show signs of recovery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.