Two American missionaries who contracted the deadly Ebola virus have been released from an Atlanta hospital and are no longer considered public health threats.
Nancy Writebol, a missionary for SIM USA, was quietly discharged from Emory University Hospital on Tuesday, officials said. Another missionary, who works with Samaritan’s Purse, Dr. Kent Brantly, was discharged Thursday.
Brantly and Writebol were infected with the disease in Liberia and given an experimental drug, ZMapp, before being brought back to the U.S. to continue their treatment.
Ribner said it wasn’t clear what specifically helped Brantly and Writebol in their speedy recovery, and how much of an effect ZMapp had.
“They are the very first individuals who received [ZMapp] and frankly we don’t know if it helped them,” he said.
Ribner explained that other factors such as better nutrition and stronger immune systems may have been key to their recovery.
The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 1,350 people. Some people raised concerns about bringing back the missionaries to be treated for the disease, which has a very high mortality rate.
“It was the right decision to bring these patients back to Emory for treatment,” said Ribner. “What we learned in caring for them will help advance the world’s understanding of how to treat Ebola virus infections and help hopefully to improve survival.”
Ribner said the U.S. healthcare system is better equipped to treat Ebola patients, improving their chances of survival. He also noted he and government health officials plan to publish findings based on their treatment that they hope will help doctors fighting the disease in West Africa.
Brantly was present during Thursday’s press conference to thank his medical team for helping in his recovery, but also asked for privacy for his family.
“My family and I will be going away for a period of time to reconnect and decompress,” he said.