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Experimental drug used to treat Ebola patient in Dallas saved Fredericksburg boy Josh Hardy

Posted at 4:25 PM, Oct 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-06 18:52:13-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The experimental drug used to treat Josh Hardy, the Fredericksburg boy stricken with a rare virus, is now being used to treat a man afflicted with Ebola in Texas.

Despite beating cancer four times, the rare virus attacked's the 7-year-old's already compromised immune system, during a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

As a result, Josh's parents waged a social media campaign last winter to get their son access to a North Carolina-based drug company's experimental drug, Brincidofovir.

Chimerix originally said in March the drug could not be released outside of controlled clinical trials. However, once the drug maker reached an agreement with the FDA, Josh became the first patient of an open-label trial of Brincidofovir. Josh was enrolled as the first patient in the trial on March 12.

By early July, Josh was headed home to Fredericksburg from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

“Glory to GOD! We are going home!!!! Leaving today. After 6 1/2 months, Josh finally gets to be in his house,” Aimee Hardy wrote on the SaveJosh Facebook page.

Hardy said that after the drug killed off the virus, Josh no longer needed dialysis and said that his heart function was within normal range.

Accordingly, Josh now has to go back to St. Jude for monthly check ups until he hits the one year mark in January.

The antiviral drug was being developed to treat life-threatening viruses, including smallpox, but antiviral drugs can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases.

“Based on in vitro data from work conducted by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health suggesting brincidofovir activity against Ebola, we are hopeful that brincidofovir may offer potential treatment for Ebola virus disease during this outbreak,” Chimerix CEO Dr. M. Michelle Berrey said.

Experimental drug administered to Ebola patient 

Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person diagnosed with Ebola on American soil when he was hospitalized this week after arrival from Liberia.

Officials said Monday that Duncan remains in critical condition, but that his condition is stable, and that he is now receiving Brincidofovir for Ebola Virus Disease.

Four days after Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, the apartment where he stayed has not been sanitized, a cleaning crew contracted to do the job said.

Four other people who were living in the apartment have been taken to an undisclosed, secure location.

Before leaving his homeland, Duncan answered no to questions on whether he was exposed to the deadly virus, said Binyah Kesselly, board chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority.

Duncan had been helping Ebola patients in Liberia, including caring for one at a residence outside the capital of Monrovia, Liberian community leader Tugbeh Chieh Tugbeh said.

Screening and monitoring

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering enhanced screenings at major U.S. airports, a CDC official said. But it does not appear to have concrete plans in place yet.

Officials want to make sure that the gain of new screenings will be worth potentially disrupting air travel and that they don't unintentionally increase the risk of spreading the disease.

"The question that's being considered now and readdressed is that, should there be entry screening of some sort?," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "If you do implement it, what would it look like and what would be the resources that are necessary to implement it? That's the kind of thing that's being actively discussed right now."

Director Dr. Tom Frieden has said that authorities are taking suggestions from Congress, the public and the media. He is expected to brief President Obama on Monday.

Beyond screenings, Frieden is confident the U.S. can prevent an Ebola outbreak by following prevention and containment procedures.

In Duncan's case, family members who had close contact with him will be monitored constantly for at least 21 days. That's roughly the maximum amount of time it takes for the disease to break out.

And they are not allowed to leave their living quarters during that time. If any of them gets a fever, he or she will be isolated, Frieden said.

"That's how you stop it in its tracks. That's why we're confident we won't see a large number of cases from this."

Containment delay

But when Duncan first fell ill, containment went wrong.

He had flown to the United States on September 20 with plans to get married, but started to feel sick days later.

When he first went to the hospital with Ebola like symptoms, he told staff that he had recently been in Liberia. That should have raised a red flag.

They sent him home with antibiotics.

Days later he went back and was quickly isolated. A blood test confirmed his Ebola infection.

Texas public health officials spent the next 24 hours tracking down anyone who may have come into contact with Duncan after his infection broke out.

In all, they found 50 people, 40 of whom they consider low-risk. Still, they are being monitored, too.

Duncan's is the first documented case of an Ebola infection breaking out in the United States, but there have been other scares, in which people checked into hospitals with suspicious symptoms.

None of them so far have turned out to be Ebola infections.

In Liberia and other West African countries, the outbreak has killed more than 3,400 people. Battling the disease will be a "long, hard fight," Frieden said.

"The virus is spreading so fast that it's hard to keep up."

Liberia may prosecute him

Kesselly said the Liberia Airport Authority may prosecute Duncan if he lied on his health screening questionnaire before leaving West Africa.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told Canadian public broadcaster CBC that she would consult with lawyers to decide what to do with Duncan when he returns home.

"The fact that he knew (he was exposed to the virus) and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly," Johnson Sirleaf said.

"With the U.S. doing so much to help us fight Ebola, and again one of our compatriots didn't take due care, and so, he's gone there and ... put some Americans in a state of fear, and put them at some risk, and so I feel very saddened by that and very angry with him, to tell you the truth."

Duncan's family said he hadn't mentioned any exposure to Ebola in Liberia.

His girlfriend says he told her he hadn't been in contact with anyone with Ebola. Smallwood said he doesn't believe Duncan knew he had Ebola when he left Liberia for the United States. But he said it isn't out of the ordinary to come to the assistance of suffering people.

Duncan was screened three times before he boarded his flight in Liberia to Brussels, Kesselly said. His temperature was a consistent 97.3 degrees Fahrenheit, said Thomas Frieden, chief of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The CNN Wire contributed to this report.