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American Ebola Patient Improving

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Supportive care may include giving the patients IV fluids or putting them on a respirator. Since many patients develop kidney failure, specialists are on standby to help if needed, Ribner said.

The patient bio-containment unit at Emory is one of four such specialized facilities in the U.S., Ribner said.

Ribner said he believed Emory was prepared to handle the cases.

The containment unit is separated from the rest of the hospital, he said. Staff in the unit, including two nurses who would care for each patient, and a team of four infectious disease doctors who would oversee their care, have been specially trained to enter the patients’ rooms.

The air the patients breathe goes through a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter before it is exhausted outside the hospital. There is no recirculation of air, so no one who works inside the facility is at risk.

Patients’ bodily waste, including stool, will be flushed into the public sewer system. Ribner said there was no risk of transmission to the general public, because waste management practices will kill any virus that’s flushed into waste water.

“The U.S. public health service has established that that is an effective way of dealing with these viruses,” he said. “Whatever comes out of the public sewer system should not be contagious." 

Ebola viruses are not especially hard to kill, he said. “Any standard disinfectant will be more than capable of inactivating Ebola,” he said. “We don’t think there will be any secondary cases as a result of caring for these patients in the U.S.”

He said the patients would be able to see visitors through a plate glass window. They will be able to talk by telephones and through an intercom system.

Brantly’s wife, Amber, said in a statement Sunday that she had been able to see her husband, and “he is in good spirits. He thanked everyone for their prayers and asked for continued prayer for Nancy Writebol’s safe return and full recovery.”

Ribner said he and his team were in discussion with the FDA and National Institutes of Health about what kinds of experimental treatments might be offered to the patients. There is no vaccine or treatment that’s approved for Ebola.

Previously, the isolation unit has housed patients infected with SARS and a suspected case of the Marburg virus, Ribner said.

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