Transcript for Ebola Case in US, and What's Being Done to Stop it Abroad
Tonight, it's confirmed. The first case of ebola diagnosed inside the united States. Now, a race against time. Could he have infected others? Our Dr. Richard Besser suits up and goes into the hot zone to find out what we could be facing with ebola in America. Reporter: It was the news America had been dreading. Today, we are providing the information that an individual traveling from Liberia has been diagnosed with ebola in the United States. Reporter: For the first time, the disease that had been decimating several countries in western Africa diagnosed here in this country. This individual left Liberia, arrived in the United States on the 20th of September, had no symptoms when departing Liberia or entering this country. Reporter: Two days later, the patient went to a hospital. And was sent home, undiagnosed. It was not until Sunday, September 28th, that the patient was admitted into a hospital. I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of ebola. Reporter: Who is at risk? The only people who had contact with him when he was sick and only if he had contact with his body fluids. This is the first person to travel from Liberia to the United States, unknowingly infected with ebola. We traveled in the reverse direction, into the heart of infection in Liberia, to see how efforts to stop the disease here are going. Before it spreads to even more countries. Hello. Good to see you! Reporter: Yes. It's been a month since I've been here. Good? Monrovia, Liberia. One epicenter in the deadliest ebola outbreak in history. One month since we were here before, the number of cases in Liberia have more than doubled. We want to see, has the response changed? The outbreak first started in December and spread across the borders into Sierra Leone and Liberia. Killing more than 3,000 people. A crippling lack of doctors and distrust of government have allowed this outbreak to explode. Now, international response is starting to ramp up. President Obama promising to send as many as 3,000 military personnel to build 17 treatment centers and train thousands of health care workers. A 25-bed field hospital to treat sick medical workers just arrived. In the cap tam, there are limited treatment facilities. But in many parts of the country, there are none. We're on the road, we're following two makeshift ambulances that are heading to a small village to pick up two patients who they hear have ebola. One is a mother and the other is her 6-month-old baby. A four-hour drive with every bend of these dusty roads, the city mets away. These roads may be less traveled, but they've been the highway that brought ebola from the jungle to the world. There's someone in the village with ebola? Yeah, we have a contact. So, we carry one confirmed case and then we have probable case. Now there's another, the baby is presenting symptoms. Reporter: The baby had contact with someone with ebola. With the father. Reporter: I see. And so we're getting the mother and the baby. Is the mother sick? No. Reporter: No. The baby is six months, so, we can't leave the mother and bring the baby. Reporter: You bring them together? We have to come with the both of them. Reporter: The baby does not look well. Very limp. The mother's name is game, and so far, she's healthy. Reporter: If the baby has ebola, the baby is being held by other people, as well. So, you can see how easily it is to spread ebola in this kind of living quarters. It's far too dangerous for me to go in there without full protective gear. It's very close quarters. And we know that the father who lives here is -- does have ebola. The baby, the mom, they all live in that area, so, they'll go in, they'll spray down the whole area, collect anything that's soiled and get rid of that. They will take game four hours away to a ebola treatment unit. They have hoping to meet up with their husband Matthew, who is hospitalized there. It will be a long drive. A sick baby in a smackshift ambulance. This ambulance, they laid a mattress down right here in the bottom. Mom and baby are comfortable in the back. Are you okay? Yeah? We ride out with them. Careful not to touch. But first, we need to pick up another patient. What is happening to you? More blood coming from your mouth. Reporter: A bloody mouth. A tell-tail sign of a bad case of ebola. His father had been given antibiotics for his son. Sounds like you had quite a journey to get your son treatment. I walk an hour and five minutes from here to my village. Reporter: Yeah. We once again head out towards the treatment center when weapon are reluctant witnesses to fresh tragedy. Getting heavier. Reporter: Matthew Lincoln, garme's husband, has died. Before she and her husband even reach the unit. Now he's being buried here in the woods and his wife, his mother, his son are in the unit. They can't come to say good-bye. Wow. Rows of empty graves. They know what the future is going to look like here. And it's not good. A grim reminder of how most stories here will end. ? but some say the tides are turning. ? good morning, good morning. We finally arrive at the ebola treatment unit. It's been set up by aid organization save the children. And now run by doctors from international medical corps. Four hours by car, two miles on a muddy road through a leper colony to get treated. And people do it. That's the only option they have. Reporter: This facility, only 13 days old. Too soon to know for sure if they've saved any ebola patients. Buff they are getting supplies and more beds. Started with ten beds. 12 days ago. And now we've got to 25 beds. Reporter: You all seem like veterans. Yeah, you learn quick. Reporter: So far, four American aid workers have gotten infected serving in west Africa. And all have survived. The fatality rate is lower in western medical system in the U.S. Than here because the level of supportive care and intervention that you can provide in that setting. Right now, we are doing the best we can for the greatest number. Reporter: Here, they boast of lower fatality rates and never having a health care worker die from the disease. But due to my experience with infectious disease, I knew it wasn't safe for my producers to go in. So, I went in alone. This may be the first time an American journalist has been allowed to go in. Getting hotter with each layer, but feeling safer. Sufting up this carefully, layers and layers of protective gear. That's how we identify one another. Reporter: Very good. Dr. Jerry brown is in charge. He prays every time he goes into the ward. Protect us from every danger. Once you come in here, you don't ever go back. That's it. We're now considered contaminated. Reporter: 60 people in a ward built for only 40. The wards the U.S. Is building won't be here for weeks. America realizing we must stop ebola here so it doesn't continue to spread around the world. My head knows I'm completely covered, but my heart pounds anyway. Ravi is a 26-year-old who caught the virus from his roommate. Dr. Brown is his savior. He gave me life. No, I'm not god. He gave you life. Yeah, he gave me life. Reporter: This is the first time I felt like I was in an actual ebola hospital. The incredible difference a clinic like this makes, the ability to talk to patients, to see a smile, a laugh. Put food in my mouth. Feed me, please. Reporter: Feels so much better. Whoa. I don't know how you do it. Dr. Brown, that's incredible. I was struck, though, by how many patients in there are doing pretty well. Each one told me the story of coming in deathly sick and many of them are watching TV and eating food. It's -- it's really incredible that people are truly getting better. Amid all the sorrow and all the grief, for the first time, there is hope. For "Nightline," I'm Dr. Rich be Besser in Monrovia, Liberia. Our thanks to the team for that important report.
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