1 August 2014
Last updated at 18:14
Efforts are under way to evacuate two American aid workers infected with the deadly Ebola virus from Liberia, their organisation has said.
Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are in a serious condition, Samaritan’s Purse said.
US health officials have confirmed an Atlanta hospital is preparing to admit at least one of the two.
The worst outbreak of Ebola in history has swept through four countries in West Africa, killing 729 people.
The patients will be flown to the US in the next few days for treatment at a high-security ward at Emory University Hospital, officials said.
A spokeswoman for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said her agency was working on the transfer with the US State Department.
Barbara Reynolds said she was not aware of any Ebola patient ever being treated in the US before.
But in a statement, the Atlanta hospital said it has an isolation unit which is specially equipped to deal with this kind of infection.
A room in the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital
US media have reported a second Ebola patient will be flown to the United States, but it is unclear if he or she will be at the same hospital.
Ebola spreads through human contact with a sufferer’s bodily fluids.
Initial flu-like symptoms can lead to external haemorrhaging from areas like eyes and gums, and internal bleeding which can lead to organ failure. It kills up to 90% of those infected.
The US health authorities have warned against travelling to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as they strive to tackle the Ebola outbreak, and 50 extra American specialists are being sent to affected areas.
Kent Brantly (right) insisted the only serum available go to a colleague
In a statement, aid group Samaritan’s Purse said the two Americans remained in Liberia on Friday, but “medical evacuation efforts are underway and should be completed by early next week”.
The group also said it was evacuating 60 non-essential staff who were healthy back to the United States.
An earlier statement said that Dr Brantly had been offered experimental serum – using blood from a child whose life he saved – but he had insisted that Ms Writebol should receive it instead.
Amber Brantly, his wife, said in a statement she remains “hopeful and believing that Kent will be healed from this dreadful disease”.
Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health in the US has said it will begin testing a possible vaccine in September.
Ebola since 1976
Ebola virus disease (EVD)
- Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
- Fatality rate can reach 90%
- Incubation period is two to 21 days
- There is no vaccine or cure
- Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
- Fruit bats are considered to be virus’ natural host