WASHINGTON (AFP) – The American woman who was sickened with the dangerous Ebola virus while working with a Christian aid group in Liberia is getting better and is even smiling, her son said Tuesday.
Nancy Writebol, 60, was evacuated from Monrovia last week and was wheeled on a stretcher into a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
“When she came in on Tuesday last week, we were really concerned that she wasn’t going to make it,” Jeremy Writebol said on NBC’s Today Show.
“To see her wheeled out of the ambulance and in, I was on the floor sobbing.”
Writebol and American doctor Kent Brantly are among the more than 1,700 people who have been sickened by the latest Ebola virus outbreak, which has killed more than 1,00 people in West Africa since March.
They both received doses of an experimental drug for Ebola. Brantly, 33, was seen stepping out of the ambulance and walking on his own.
Writebol was in poorer condition than Brantly on arrival, but has since improved. Her son said he is able to visit her twice a day.
Due to concerns about contagion, he can only look at her through a hospital window, as doctors and nurses treating her don protective gear from head to toe.
“We’ve seen her get physically better, her eyes brighten up, smiling, even joking a little bit,” he said, adding that doctors have told him they are cautiously optimistic about her recovery.
Writebol’s husband, David, returned to the United States from Liberia on Monday. He remains in isolation, checking his own temperature multiple times a day for signs of fever.
Ebola symptoms can emerge two to 21 days after exposure to the virus, causing fever, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
A total of 1,013 people have died and 1,848 people have been infected since March, according to the World Health Organization’s latest tally on August 11.
Nearly 55 percent of victims have died in the outbreak, which has spread to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.