A second American aid worker infected with Ebola arrived Tuesday in Atlanta, where doctors will closely monitor the effect of an experimental drug she agreed to take even though its safety was never tested on humans.
Nancy Writebol arrived from Monrovia, Liberia, in a chartered jet at Dobbins Air Reserve Base and was then taken in an ambulance to Emory University Hospital, just downhill from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She was wheeled from the ambulance in a stretcher. Three days earlier, Dr. Kent Brantly, also diagnosed with the virus, arrived at Emory and walked from an ambulance.
The two patients — being treated in an isolation unit — were infected despite taking precautions as they treated Ebola patients in West Africa, where the virus has been spreading faster than governments can contain it, killing nearly 900 people so far.
And while family members said both Americans have been improving after the novel treatment, doctors at Emory have released no details about the experimental drug. Writebol's employer, the SIM charity, said Tuesday that she remains in serious but stable condition.
The treatment was developed with U.S. military funding by a San Diego company, using antibodies harvested from mice that had been injected with parts of the Ebola virus. Tobacco plants in Kentucky are being used to reproduce it.
It's impossible to know whether the drug saved these workers from the hemorrhagic fever killing as many as 80 percent of the people the virus is infecting in Africa. They could be recovering on their own, or for other reasons, including better medical care than many Africans get.