Dr Kent Brantly Contracts Ebola Virus: What Happens Next?

Dr. Kent Brantly, a Fort Worth, Texas-based doctor treating Ebola patients in Liberia, has contracted the disease himself, according to a new report from the New York Daily News.

North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse issued a news release saying that Dr. Kent Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. The site adds that Brantly is the medical director for the aid organization’s case management center in the city.

Brantly, 33, and pictured above at right, has worked with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia since October 2013 as part of the charity’s post-residency program for doctors, said the group’s spokeswoman Melissa Strickland.

In an earlier comment from Brantly posted to the group’s site, he said: “The hospital is taking great effort to be prepared. In past Ebola outbreaks, many of the casualties have been healthcare workers who contracted the disease through their work caring for infected individuals.”

Brantly’s family has not issued a comment at this time.

The Ebola virus is considered one of the deadliest viruses in the world. That’s because between 50 percent and 90 percent of the people who get it do not survive, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).

Other key facts about the disease:

Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rain forests.
The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.

So what does this mean for Dr. Kent Brantly? And what becomes of Americans living abroad who contract the disease through the healthcare profession?

It’s hard to say at this moment how the U.S. government will respond, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment for anyone impaired with the disease will consist of “balancing their fluids, maintaining their oxygen levels and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections.”

The disease has an incubation period of two to 21 days, and treatment can last until the patient dies or until the Ebola virus runs its course. Unfortunately, it’s mostly the former instead of the latter.

Whatever happens, we wish Dr. Kent Brantly and family the best. His efforts have given relief to the region, which has seen a casualty rate of 672 since the Ebola outbreak hit earlier in the year.

[Image via Kellum Tate Facebook]