When Emory went viral: Stories of Ebola

What happened when the first US patients infected with Ebola virus disease came to be treated at Emory University Hospital

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Nov. 25, 2014

Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Disease Unit was built in cooperation with the CDC to treat patients with lethal, contagious disease acquired in the field or in a lab. It is one of four such high-level biocontainment units in the US

Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Disease Unit was built in cooperation with the CDC to treat patients with lethal, contagious diseases acquired in the field or in a lab. It is one of four such high-level biocontainment units in the U.S.

Isolation unit nursing director Carolyn Hill, medical director Bruce Ribner, and pathologist Charles Hill (far right) confer just outside the doors to Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Disease Unit.
Isolation unit nursing director Carolyn Hill, medical director Bruce Ribner, and pathologist Charles Hill (far right) confer just outside the sliding glass doors to Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Disease Unit.
When medical missionary Dr. Kent Brantly emerged from the back of a Grady ambulance on August 2, clad in a full-body protective suit and holding onto his EMS escort for support, he became the first Ebola patient to set foot on American soil.
When medical missionary Dr. Kent Brantly emerged from the back of a Grady ambulance on August 2, clad in a full-body protective suit and holding onto his EMS escort for support, he became the first Ebola patient to set foot on American soil.
Emory-trained Serious Communicable Disease Unit nurses (from left) Crystal Johnson, Laura Mitchell, and Jason Slabach.
Emory-trained Serious Communicable Disease Unit nurses (from left) Crystal Johnson, Laura Mitchell, and Jason Slabach. Full feature on Emory's team: "Ebola: From Microscope to Spotlight".
Infectious disease specialist Anneesh Mehta hopes Emory's work will help curb Ebola in the future.
Infectious disease specialist Anneesh Mehta hopes Emory's work will help curb Ebola in the future. Q&A with Dr. Mehta: "What We Learned"
Colleen Kraft was part of a team providing 24-hour care to patients in the Serious Communicable Disease Unit. She was the on-call physician in the unit during President Barack Obama's visit to the CDC.
Colleen Kraft was part of a team providing 24-hour care to patients in the Serious Communicable Disease Unit. She was the on-call physician in the unit during President Barack Obama's visit to the CDC. Read more: "Doc of the Day"
Infectious disease physicians Jay Varkey, Aneesh Mehta, and Marshall Lyon talk with Kent Brantly, the first patient with Ebola to be treated in the US, on the day of his release from Emory Hospital's isolation unit.
Infectious disease physicians Jay Varkey, Aneesh Mehta, and Marshall Lyon talk with Kent Brantly, the first patient with Ebola to be treated in the US, on the day of his release from Emory Hospital's isolation unit.
Ebola is spread through bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, urine, saliva, and diarrhea, and requires direct contact. If you recover, you no longer have the virus and are likely to be immune to that strain. More: "Ebola 1-2-3"
Ebola is spread through bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, urine, saliva, and diarrhea, and requires direct contact. If you recover, you no longer have the virus and are likely to be immune to that strain. More: "Ebola 1-2-3"
Emory Heathcare team members (left to right) Charles Hill, Carolyn Hill, and Bruce Ribner meeting with President Barack Obama Sept. 16 at the CDC.
Emory Heathcare team members (left to right) Charles Hill, Carolyn Hill, and Bruce Ribner meeting with President Barack Obama Sept. 16 at the CDC. More on the visit: "'The World is Looking to Us'"
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Until early August 2014, cases of Ebola virus disease had not been seen or treated in the United States. All that changed when the first two American patients were brought for treatment to Emory University Hospital, where a special isolation unit (Serious Communicable Disease Unit) designed by Emory and CDC experts had been preparing for such a crisis for more than a decade.

Since the successful treatment and discharge of four patients from Emory, the Ebola epidemic that has claimed more than 5,100 lives in West Africa has become the subject of international attention, and a handful of cases in the US continues to raise awareness and concern.

In the autumn 2014 issues of Emory Magazine, Emory Medicine magazine, and Public Health magazine, you'll meet some of the members of the extraordinary Emory Healthcare team who cared for those early patients while the world watched. You'll also learn about collaborative efforts between Emory's public health experts and the CDC, more about the virus itself, and the measures being taken to slow its spread around the world.

From Our Magazines

Emory Magazine

Emory Magazine

Main Feature:
Ebola: From Microscope to Spotlight

Sidebars:
Doc of the Day  |  Flight for Life   |  Forward Thinker  |On the Front Lines  |  Telling the Story 


Emory Medicine

Emory Medicine Magazine

Features:
Surviving Ebola  |  What We Learned  |  Lessons from a previous outbreak  |  Disrupting the Balance |  'The World is Looking to Us' |The Fear Factor

Illustrations:
Emory University Hospital Serious Communicable Disease Unit  |  Ebola: The Developing Story  |  Ebolavirus 1-2-3


Public Health

Public Health Magazine

Features:
Taming the Ebola epidemic  |  Ready to go back