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Updated: Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:44:05 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Ebola outbreak: Nancy Writebol thankful for recovery



Nancy Writebol, who spent weeks in isolation after contracting the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, looks to her husband, David, during a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C. This is the first time that the Charlotte woman, who was recently released from an Atlanta hospital, has spoken publicly about her experience. She and her husband, both missionaries, had been in Liberia for a year working in a clinic when she contracted the disease. Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Nancy Writebol, who spent weeks in isolation after contracting the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, looks to her husband, David, during a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C. This is the first time that the Charlotte woman, who was recently released from an Atlanta hospital, has spoken publicly about her experience. She and her husband, both missionaries, had been in Liberia for a year working in a clinic when she contracted the disease. Bob Leverone/Associated Press

After weeks of battling Ebola, a North Carolina missionary is thankful for her fight to survive the deadly virus.  

Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, held a news conference Wednesday at the SIM USA charity's sprawling campus south of Charlotte. 

Writebol, who contracted the deadly disease during the outbreak in West Africa, thanked her medical team, family and those who prayed for her.

"This is God’s story, God is writing this,” Writebol said.

On learning of her Ebola diagnosis after initial treatment for malaria, she told her husband, "It’s going to be OK."

Writebol said she never feared being in Liberia, despite some dark days.

"There were many mornings when I woke up and thought, 'I'm alive!' And there were mornings when I thought, 'I don't think I'm going to make it any more.'"

- MAP | The spread of the deadly Ebola virus

The Writebols left their home last year for missionary work at a clinic in Liberia, where Nancy Writebol's duties included disinfecting staff entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area. After she was infected, Nancy Writebol, 59, was flown to the United States and kept in isolation at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

She was released Aug. 19 and has been spending time with her husband at an undisclosed location. Her husband was quarantined for a week at the SIM campus before being released.

Writebol said she's often asked what saved her. She listed treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, supportive care, medical treatment in Liberia and the U.S. and her faith. "My answer to that question is all of the above."

The virus is spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids, not through casual contact.

Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, said Ebola has become a global threat and we require urgent action.

"As of this week, we are reporting 3,500 cases confirmed and probable cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. More than 1,900 deaths and the outbreaks are racing ahead of the control efforts in these countries,"  Chan said Wednesday in Washington.

Another missionary, Dr. Kent Brantly, was released last month after spending three weeks in an isolation unit at the same hospital. He hasn't spoken yet about his plans, but spent much of his first public appearance pleading for help for countries still struggling with the virus.

After Brantly, 33, and Nancy Writebol were infected, their charity organizations, Samaritan's Purse and SIM, reached out to top infectious disease experts for help.

The news conference comes one day after the charity announced that an American doctor treating obstetrics patients at its hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, has tested positive for Ebola.

The president of a missionary group says a third American who has fallen ill with the Ebola virus decided to return to Liberia after the other two people became ill.

SIM president Bruce Johnson told reporters Wednesday that Dr. Rick Sacra returned to Liberia about a month ago after Writebol and Brantly fell ill.

British man recovers from Ebola

Johnson says the 51-year-old Sacra lives in the Boston area. He adds it's not known whether Sacra will return to the U.S. for treatment.

Meanwhile, a British man infected with Ebola while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone has been discharged from hospital in London.

William Pooley, 29, was treated in a special isolation unit and also received ZMapp.

"I was very lucky in several ways," he said. "Firstly in the standard of care that I received, which is a world apart from
what people are receiving in West Africa at the moment despite lot of organizations' best efforts.

"The other difference to a lot of Ebola cases [is] that my symptoms never progressed to the worst stages of the disease. I had some unpleasant symptoms but nothing compared to some of the worst of the disease."

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