An American doctor and another U.S. aid worker helping to combat the deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa have now been diagnosed with the disease.
Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, medical director for the aid group Samaritan’s Purse, and his colleague Nancy Writebol, are both being treated at the center in Monrovia where they were working to help Ebola patients. Both are in stable condition, said Melissa Strickland, a spokeswoman for North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse, according to NBC News.
Brantly, the medical director for the relief group’s Ebola care center on the outskirts of the Liberian capital of Monrovia, was stable, but in very serious condition, said Ken Isaacs, vice president of Samaritan’s Purse.
The second American to contract the disease was identified as Nancy Writebol of Charlotte, N.C. Isaacs said she was a worker with an allied aid group SIM or Serving in Mission, which runs the hospital where Samaritan’s Purse has an Ebola care center on the grounds. He said she was in stable and serious condition, reported CBS News.
“She is showing full symptoms of the disease,” Isaacs said.
Isaacs said that Writebol had been working as a hygienist who decontaminated those entering and leaving the Ebola care area at the hospital.
Writebol and her husband, David, who is also employed by SIM, have been working in Monrovia since last August, CBS affiliate WBTV in Charlotte reported. The Writebols have two children.
David Writebol broke the news of his wife’s illness to members of their church in North Carolina via Skype.
“It’s just devastating news,” the Rev. John Munro, Calvary Church’s senior pastor, told the Charlotte Observer.
“He’s devastated,” Munro said of David Writebol. “He can’t really be with his wife. She’s in isolation. Ebola is very contagious…. She’s not doing well. It’s grim news.”
Ebola has infected nearly 1,100 people and killed 660 of them in the current West African outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. It’s the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The virus had spread across borders between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and was spread by airliner for the first time ever when a Liberian citizen, Patrick Sawyer, collapsed a week ago after flying into Lagos. He’s since died and two tests came back positive for Ebola.
Nigerian authorities are working to track down everyone Sawyer may have been in contact with. In Liberia, doctors are doing the same for the two Americans, said Strickland. She said it’s not clear precisely how Brantly and Writebol were infected. Both used personal protective equipment, which includes a full body coverall, multiple layers of gloves, goggles and face protection.
“Our team has followed to the letter all of the protocols for safety that were developed by the CDC and WHO,” Strickland told NBC News. “At this time we have not been able to confirm 100 percent the method of contagion,” she added.
David Writebol is being tested for fever several times a day, Strickland said, but so far remains healthy.
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