28 July 2014

Liberia: Ebola Hits Second American, Samaritan Purse Worker in Liberia

Photo: Samaritan's Purse
Dr. Brantly makes chlorine solution for disinfection at the case management center at ELWA Hospital in Monrovia before he was infected with the virus.

Monrovia — Nancy Writebol has become the second American working in Liberia to be infected with the deadly Ebola virus, the medical group, Samaritan Purse announced on its website Sunday.

SIM says Writebol is employed by the organization and was helping the joint SIM/Samaritan's Purse team that is treating Ebola patients at the Case Management Center in Monrovia. SIM manages ELWA Hospital there, and the two organizations have been working closely to combat Ebola since the current outbreak began in Liberia in March.

Writebol is married with two children. "We request that her family's privacy be respected during this difficult time, and please keep them in your prayers, the organization said on its website.

Writebol's infection follows the infection of Dr. Kent Brantly, a Medical Director for the organization who tested positive for the Ebola virus. Both are currently undergoing treatment at a Samaritan's Purse isolation center at ELWA Hospital. Samaritan's Purse is continuing medical operations at our Ebola Case Management Centers in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Liberia Ministry of Health, and other global health authorities.

Dr. Brantly is married with two children. Samaritan's Purse is committed to doing everything possible to help Dr. Brantly during this time of crisis. We ask everyone to please pray for him and his family.

The outbreak has hit the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, causing more than 670 deaths and more than 1,000 infections, according to the WHO. Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness with a fatality rate of up to 90% and is one of the world's most virulent diseases, according to the WHO. It is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.

On Saturday, Dr. Samuel Brisbane, the lead doctor at the country's leading medical institutions, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, died from the virus. Dr. Brisbane was working as a consultant with the internal medicine unit at the country's largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia.

Brisbane, who once was a medical adviser to former Liberian President Charles Taylor, was taken to a treatment center on the outskirts of the capital after falling ill with Ebola, and died there, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister.

Another doctor who had been working in Liberia's central Bong County also was being treated for Ebola at the same center where Brisbane died. The situation "is getting more and more scary," Nyenswah said.

A Ugandan doctor working in Liberia, where an Ebola outbreak has killed 129 people, died earlier this month. The current outbreak has claimed the lives of 319 in Guinea and 224 in Sierra Leone.

Last week, the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders announced that the chief doctor leading the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Sheik Umar Khan, had contracted the disease. Three nurses who worked in the same Ebola treatment Center as Khan, 39, are believed to have died from the disease.

The WHO announced that it was opening a Sub-Regional Outbreak Coordination Centre in Conakry, Guinea, in response to the outbreak. The center will "consolidate and harmonize the technical support being provided to West African countries" hit by the disease and help mobilize resources for the response, the WHO said.

In Nigeria, where Patrick Sawyer, a consultant with the Ministry of Finance died from the virus last week, the government has issued a Red Alert and ordered tests from all passengers out of Liberia.

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