Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski and Zach Noble
ATLANTA (AP) — An American doctor infected with the Ebola virus in Africa arrived in Atlanta for treatment Saturday, landing at a military base, then being whisked away to one of the most sophisticated hospital isolation units in the country, officials say.
An ambulance arrives with Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly, right, to Emory University Hospital, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Atlanta. Brantly, infected with the Ebola virus in Africa arrived in Atlanta for treatment Saturday, landing in a specially equipped plane at a military base, then being whisked away to one of the most sophisticated hospital isolation units in the country, officials say. (Image source: AP/WSB-TV Atlanta)
It marks the first time anyone infected with incurable Ebola, considered one of the world's deadliest diseases, has been brought into the country. A second American aid worker infected with the virus was expected to arrive within a couple days.
An ambulance arrives at Emory University Hospital transporting an American that was infected with the Ebola virus, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Atlanta. A specially outfitted plane carrying Dr. Kent Brantly from West Africa arrived at a military base in Georgia. Brantly was taken to the Atlanta hospital. Another American with Ebola is expected to join him at the hospital in a few days. (Image source: AP/David Goldman)
A private plane outfitted with a special, portable tent designed for transporting patients with highly infectious diseases arrived at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, spokesman Lt. Col. James Wilson confirmed. Samaritan's Purse missionary group tells The Associated Press that Dr. Kent Brantly is the patient.
Dr. Kent Brantly is shown in this 2013 photo provided by JPS Health Network. A relief group official says Brantly is one of two American aid workers that have tested positive for the Ebola virus while working to combat an outbreak of the deadly disease at a hospital in Liberia. A spokesman said both Americans have been isolated and are under intensive treatment.(AP Photo/JPS Health Network)
An ambulance from Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital left the base in Marietta, Georgia, shortly after the Gulfstream landed and drove the 15 miles or so toward Emory University Hospital where Brantly and another aid worker will be treated.
Once at the hospital, one person in white protective clothing from head to toe climbed down from the back of the ambulance and a second person in the same type of hazmat-looking suit appeared to take his gloved hands and guide him toward a building at Emory, which is located just down a hill from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. officials are confident the patients with the virus can be treated without putting the public in any danger.
The ambulance with red markings was flanked by a few SUVs and police car for the short trip to the hospital along a wide-open Interstate with no traffic.
The second patient, Nancy Writebol, will follow a few days later, the hospital has said. The two seriously Americans worked at a hospital in Liberia, one of the three West Africa countries hit by the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
A picture taken on July 24, 2014 shows staff of the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse putting on protective gear in the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia. An American doctor battling West Africa's Ebola epidemic has himself fallen sick with the disease in Liberia, Samaritan's Purse said on July 27. (Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images)
Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory who will be involved in Brantly's care, said the hospital's isolation unit is well-equipped to handle patients with diseases that are even more infectious than Ebola.
The unit was used for treating at least one SARS patient in 2005. Unlike Ebola, SARS — like the flu — is an airborne virus and can spread easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Health experts say a specialized isolation unit is not needed for treating an Ebola patient. Standard rigorous infection control measures should work at any hospital.
"Ebola is only transmitted through blood and bodily fluids," he said. "Unlike the flu, like influenza, which we deal with every winter, Ebola cannot be spread thorugh the air."
Ebola begins with fever, headache and weakness and can escalate to vomiting, diarrhea and kidney and liver problems. In some cases, patients bleed both internally and externally.
Dr. Philip Brachman, an Emory University public health specialist who for many years headed the CDC's disease detectives program, said Friday that since there is no cure, medical workers will try any modern therapy that can be done, such as better monitoring of fluids, electrolytes and vital signs.
"That's all we can do for such a patient. We can make them feel comfortable" and let the body try to beat back the virus, he said.
It's not known how Brantly was infected, but health care workers are among the most vulnerable because of their close contact with sick patients.
Brantly's wife, Amber, and their two children, 3 and 5, had left Liberia for a wedding in the U.S. just days before her husband fell ill and quarantined himself. Last week, in a statement, she said they were fine and were staying with family in Abilene, Texas.
Brantly went to medical school at Indiana University and did a four-year residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Last October, he began a two-year fellowship with Samaritan's Purse to serve as a general practitioner at a mission hospital outside the Liberia capital of Monrovia. He directed the hospital's Ebola clinic when the outbreak reached that West Africa nation.
Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee, National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington and video journalist Johnny Clark and writer Ray Henry in Atlanta contributed to this report.