Why Experts Were Surprised That Ebola-Infected Doctor Could Walk Into a Hospital

The fact that an Ebola-infected American was able to walk into a Georgia hospital today after his return to the United States surprised even medical experts familiar with the ravages of the deadly disease.

Dr. Kent Brantly arrived at Emory University Hospital today after being evacuated from Monrovia,Liberia where he was being treated for Ebola. Although Brantly had shown signs of the disease for the past week, he managed to walk into the hospital with the support of medical personnel.

All three wore protective gear to contain the deadly virus.

Brantly, along with missionary Nancy Writebol, was infected with the disease after working with Ebola-infected patients in Liberia’s capital city. This current Ebola outbreak is the worst on record and has killed more than 700 in three countries in West African and infected more than 1,300.

Before Brantly arrived in Atlanta, not much about his condition had been made public. According to Samaritan’s Purse, the aid organization he was working for, Brantly was in “serious but stable” condition before being flown to the U.S.

When the doctor was able to walk into the hospital, at least two experts said they were surprised but pleased that the doctor seemed to be doing well.

This strain of the Ebola virus has a fatality rate of approximately 60 percent and past outbreaks had fatality rates as high as 90 percent.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said he felt “guardedly optimistic,” since Ebola usually advances quickly and Brantly had shown signs of the disease for at least a week.

“The first thing we all said ‘Whoa he’s not on a vent,'” Schaffner said of realizing that Brantly did not need a ventilator to help him breathe. “In general [with] Ebola is … you progress on a downhill course. If you’re at this point and you’re holding your own you’re entitled to be optimistic.”

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.