The Ebola virus claimed the lives of more than 900 people in West Africa, while twice that is infected. An American missionary Nancy Writebol was evacuated to medical isolation in Atlanta together with Dr. Kent Brantly for treatment. Dr. Brantly is the physician who exhibited symptoms of the disease after treating Patrick Sawyer, the first American to die of Ebola. Both are undergoing treatment with the use of an experimental drug derived from tobacco plants that has yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human applications.
The virus spreads from host to host through contact via bodily fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have dispatched 50 infectious disease specialists to contain the outbreak in West Africa.
The spread of disease has become much more a matter of concern because of the ease of air travel. Ebola is fortunately not passed through the air, and has a 55% mortality rate, but experts caution that the virus is tricky and unpredictable. Containment is the best option. There is no confirmed treatment of the virus.
The use of the experimental drug ZMapp on Writebol and Brantly was done so without the sanction of the FDA which is required by law. However, it was first administered in Liberia, thus beyond the jurisdiction of the FDA. Despite the first positive signs of recovery, the efficacy of the drug is not yet confirmed, and the legal ramifications of such a move are also somewhat nebulous, though both patients who received the drug were aware that it was an experimental treatment.