ATLANTA — Nancy Writebol, the second American medical missionary stricken with Ebola virus in Liberia, was carried on a stretcher into Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Tuesday after a trans-Atlantic flight aboard a specially outfitted jet.
Her husband, David, who stayed in Liberia, said Nancy "shows signs of continued improvement," according to Service in Mission, the faith-based organization she worked for in the West African nation.
Writebol, 59, arrived at Dobbins Air Reserve Base on the same jet that brought the first American patient, physician Kent Brantly, 33, to the medical center from Liberia on Saturday.
She was taken to the hospital by ambulance in a small caravan that included FBI agents, DeKalb County police and Emory University police, said DeKalb public safety director Cedric Alexander.
He said his department was on heightened alert for the escort because there had been "unsubstantiated threats" against the aid worker. The trip from the airport to Emory was uneventful, he said.
Writebol was carried into the hospital on a stretcher, unlike Brantly, who walked in under his own power, said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. He said the difference was related more to their respective ages and the stress of international flight than to their medical conditions.
"Nancy is (59), Kent is 33," he said. "For her to be on a stretcher is not an indication of where she is with Ebola."
Johnson said he had spoken with David Writebol. "He said Nancy is still very weak. She shows signs of continued improvement. She is showing progress and is moving in the right direction," he said.
Johnson said Writebol ate yogurt before she left Liberia. He said her isolation chamber at Emory includes a window that allows her to see and talk with visitors.
The operations to bring the two American aid workers back to the USA cost about $2 million, Johnson said. SIM USA's tab is approaching $1 million, and Samaritan's Purse has paid more than $1 million, hoping to recoup some of that in insurance, he said.
Johnson said that despite the dangers, SIM USA workers are willing to work in West Africa.
He's not surprised: The group was founded in 1893 by three men doing missionary work in coastal Nigeria. Within a year, two of them were dead of malaria.
"This is at the heart of what we do," he said.
Brantly, a doctor with Samaritan's Purse, and Writebol, a hygienist with Service in Mission, were infected while working with Ebola patients at a clinic operated by the organizations in Liberia.
Both have received an experimental "cocktail" of antibodies that has been used successfully on monkeys infected with the Ebola virus.
Brantly's wife, Amber, said in a statement Tuesday that she had seen her husband daily, and "he continues to improve."
"I am also thrilled to see that Nancy arrived safely in Atlanta today," she said. "Our families are united in our faith in Jesus, and we will walk through this recovery time together."
The World Health Organization said in its most recent update on Ebola that the number of reported cases from the latest outbreak has risen to 1,603, including 887 deaths. The week ending Aug. 1 saw 163 new cases and 61 deaths, the health agency said.
As concern mounts over the spread of the virus in West Africa, the World Bank has pledged as much as $200 million in emergency funding to help Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
"The international community needs to act fast to contain and stop this Ebola outbreak," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, a medical doctor with experience of treating infectious diseases. "I believe this new World Bank emergency funding will provide critically needed support for the response to stop the further transmission."
Late Monday, officials at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York admitted a man who had recently been to West Africa and was showing symptoms — high fever and gastrointestinal problems — consistent with Ebola.
The New York City Health Department later said, "The patient is unlikely to have Ebola. Specimens are being tested for common causes of illness and to definitively exclude Ebola." The department said Tuesday that the patient remains in isolation, was stable overnight and in good spirits. Results from specimen testing sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention typically take 24-48 hours to complete.
In Washington, a summit with African leaders hosted by the White House has been overshadowed by the growing health crisis.
Tuesday in Sierra Leone, one of the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak, officials canceled all soccer matches indefinitely.