Since Ebola first was identified in 1976, there have been at least a dozen outbreaks and at least 5 strains have been identified. Serologic tests for Ebola have been available since 1977.
The US did not ignore Ebola. It posed a threat as a natural illness, and posed a different threat as a potential biological warfare agent. The US government, and especially USAMRIID at Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD have worked on approaches to Ebola for decades.
Dr. Brantley, now in the US, will benefit from these potential treatments, and he will also provide serum samples to improve diagnostics and therapies for this specific strain of Ebola. Bringing an Ebola-infected doctor back to the US is really a win-win for him and for American understanding of Ebola.
I have been curious why we have not heard of these therapies being tried on an experimental basis in Africa, nor have we heard about Ebola vaccine trials there (yet). CDC staff have advised on case identification and isolation, but have not been "on the ground" working in areas where there are Ebola cases to be treated.
It is rather a bizarre situation that private charities like MSF and Samaritan's Purse are doing the clinical heavy lifting, when this outbreak has a potential to kill millions and spread widely. When will we see WHO, CDC and other national health entities on the ground?
Here are just a few press releases about promising experimental Ebola therapeutics developed at USAMRIID:
Experimental Ebola Treatment Protects Some Primates Even After Disease Symptoms Appear
Ebola Antibody Treatment, Produced in Plants, Protects Monkeys from Lethal Disease
Novel “Antisense” Therapies Protect Primates from Lethal Ebola and Marburg Viruses
Post-Exposure Antibody Treatment Protects Primates from Ebola, Marburg Viruses
Gene-Specific Ebola Therapies Protect Nonhuman Primates from Lethal Disease
DRUG SHOWS PROMISE FOR EBOLA VIRUS TREATMENT IN PRIMATES