Charlotte missionary, Samaritan's Purse doctor with Ebola coming - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte missionary, Samaritan's Purse doctor with Ebola coming back to US

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV/CNN) -

A disease with no known cure will soon reach the United States for the first time.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plans to bring two Americans infected with Ebola to the U.S. for treatment.

The CDC has retrofitted a long-range business jet with medical equipment, including an isolation chamber, and plans to bring two infected Americans back to the United States.

"The two Americans who contracted Ebola in Liberia remain in the country today but medical evacuation efforts are underway and should be completed by early next week," officials with Samaritan's Purse said Friday.

Aid workers Nancy Writebol and doctor Kent Brantly are currently in serious condition.

Writebol is a Charlotte-based missionary while Dr. Brantly works with Samaritan's Purse in Boone.

"We are so heartened that Nancy is in stable condition and that plans are underway to bring her back to the U.S.," said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. "We are grateful for the help and support of the U.S. State Department in this endeavor. As believers in the power of prayer, we covet the prayers of people around the world, not only for Nancy and Kent, but also for all those fighting this brutal virus."

SIM currently has two doctors caring for Writebol and Brantly. No others from SIM who are returning to the U.S. have tested positive for Ebola.

"These patients need to be in isolation and that isolation needs to be pristine," Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent said. "Everything from the way that the air circulates in the room, the way that people are allowed to enter into the room, the anti-rooms -- the rooms before you get into where the patient is -- so people can gown up. All of that is necessary and really quite effective."

At an advanced stage, Ebola it can cause internal and external bleeding. The symptoms include weakness, fever, headaches, and vomiting.

The World Health Organization says it has infected more than 13-hundred people in West Africa since March. Those cases have been more than 55-percent fatal.

Liberia has been especially hard-hit.

"It's definitely the biggest outbreak we've seen of Ebola ever," says Carolinas Healthcare infectious disease specialist Dr. Katie Passaretti. She says she's not making light of the situation, but she thinks fears about bringing two Ebola patients into the U.S. are overblown.

"You're not going to get it from having two patients with Ebola in Atlanta when you live in Maine," Passaretti says. "It's not the zombie apocalypse that's coming."

Still, it is the first time this deadly disease will land on U.S. soil.

The hope is that Writebol and Brantly will do better in the US. But a lot of people have questions tonight about the decision to move them. The worry, of course, that the disease will spread in this country.

But Passaretti says you can only catch Ebola  through direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.

"It's not something that will spread in the air like wildfire," Passretti says. "It's not like Influenza where we worry about big crowds of people spreading without even knowing it from person to person. It's actual contact with people who are very ill."

And, she says, it is quite clear if an Ebola patient is contagious. "People that are sick with Ebola, you know when you're in contact with them and their bodily fluids. The virus isn't transmitted until you're symptomatic, so it's not like there are people that have no symptoms that can potentially touch you and give you the virus."

"The government [of Liberia] does not have the capacity anymore to deal with this outbreak. So we need the help of the international community," said Tolbert Nyesuah, Assistant Health Minister for Preventative Services.

Even as nations call for more help with what may be the worst-ever Ebola outbreak in history, international humanitarian groups are pulling out.

"Evacuation of 60 nonessential Samaritan's Purse and SIM staff and dependents in Liberia has already begun," Samaritan's Purse said. "They are all healthy, and we expect them to return to the United States by the end of the weekend."

The CDC has issued a level three travel warning for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

There is no known cure for Ebola. There is an experimental vaccine -- but testing for that vaccine isn't expected until at least September.

It's not clear when Writebol and Dr. Brantly might arrive in the United States.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. CNN Contributed to this article. All rights reserved.

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