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US aid worker infected with ebola is now being treated at an Atlanta hospital

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Frederick A Murphy / CDC

On Saturday, Dr. Kent Brantly arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. He is understood to be the first person carrying ebola who has been inside the United States. Dr. Brantly, of Texas, contracted the highly contagious virus while working in Liberia to help treat ebola patients, and he has been brought back to the US for intensive care at Emory University Hospital. The university is equipped with a special facility — designed in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control — made to treat patients with extremely contagious conditions. Dr. Brantly's co-worker, Nancy Writebol, also contracted ebola at the same clinic in Liberia. She is expected to return to the US for intensive care in a few days, according to The New York Times.

Every known precaution taken

Bringing Dr. Brantly back home was far more complicated than buying a plane ticket. The Christian aid organization he was working for, Samaritan's Purse, worked with the CDC and the US State Department to secure his entry into the country, reports the Times. It hired a specially-configured aircraft with a tent-like device on board to contain the deadly pathogen. Once the plane arrived in the US, the patient was placed in an ambulance. All on board, including Dr. Brantly, were protected with white hazardous material suits. He was then brought to Emory University Hospital.

Despite the precautions, some observers panicked at the idea of an ebola patient arriving in the US. The internet and Twitter, in particular, are awash in paranoid fears of a mass contagion. CDC director Thomas R Frieden tried to assuage concerns, telling the Times that "These are American citizens. American citizens have a right of return. I certainly hope people’s fear doesn’t trump their compassion." While there is no known cure for ebola, supportive therapy that keeps patients healthy and hydrated can help the body live long enough to fight the virus. The current outbreak in Western Africa has a mortality rate of 55 percent.

Correction: Dr. Brantly is from Texas, not North Carolina as originally stated.