Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the Ebola-stricken American missionaries recovering at an Atlanta hospital, said Friday he could be discharged in the “near future” and asked well-wishers to pray for the ongoing health crisis in West Africa.
“As my treatment continues in the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital, I am recovering in every way,” Brantly said in a statement. “I am more grateful every day to the Lord for sparing my life and continuing to heal my body.”
Brantly still has “a few hurdles” to clear before being discharged, but he’s holding on “to the hope of a sweet reunion with my wife, children, and family in the near future.”
Brantly’s colleague, Nancy Writebol, is also “making good progress,” her husband said Wednesday. “Though Nancy contracted the Ebola disease, we do not see that as a failure on God’s part. The reality is, God’s purposes are higher than our own pain,” said David Writebol, who just returned to the United States and remains in isolation until Ebola’s 21-day incubation period passes. Neither David Writebol nor the two other SIM missionaries evacuated from Liberia this week have been diagnosed with Ebola, but officials are keeping them separated from others as a precaution.
Nancy Writebol and Brantly contracted Ebola while working at an isolation ward near Monrovia, Liberia. Brantly asked people to “continue to pray for and bring attention” to the West African crisis because “their fight is far from over.”
Aid groups Thursday and Friday issued desperate pleas for resources as the disease spreads faster than they can respond. The World Health Organization warned the official counts of 1,069 dead and 1,975 infected may “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”
In Sierra Leone, case numbers are rising as officials go house to house finding more victims, often hidden by fearful families. Doctors Without Borders likened the situation to a state of war and said the outbreak could last six more months.
Tarnue Karbbar, who works for the aid group Plan International in northern Liberia, said response teams simply aren’t able to document all the cases erupting. In the last several days, some 75 cases have been diagnosed in a single district.
The outbreak’s rapid spread means patients flood into every newly opened treatment center. Aid workers throughout the region describe treatment centers at 300-400 percent capacity, making it impossible to separate the sick from those waiting to be tested. An 80-bed center in Monrovia filled up immediately after it opened, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said. The next day, dozens more people showed up to be treated.
Ebola causes a high fever, bleeding, and vomiting. It has no cure and no licensed treatment. It has been fatal in at least 50 percent of the cases, health experts say. NewLink Genetics Corp. out of Iowa announced it will soon begin human testing on a vaccine, in cooperation with the Canadian government. But that will take time. While Liberia received some of the experimental serum used to treat Writebol and Brantly, it’s only enough for three people.
The shortage of treatment may soon give way to a shortage of food. The United Nations said Friday that widespread fear, roadblocks, and quarantines are preventing produce from traveling from farms to cities. If food does arrive, public markets and other gatherings are banned anyway. The UN announced plans for food convoys to feed up to 1 million people in the coming months. If Ebola disrupts the upcoming planting season, the crisis could worsen.