5 August 2014

West Africa: Second Ebola Patient Arrives in U.S., As BA Cancels Flights

Photo: Tommy Trenchard/IRIN
An employee of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) prepares to treat Ebola victims in Sierra Leone.

An American infected with Ebola has arrived in the US for treatment at Emory University Hospital. Nigeria has eight suspected cases of Ebola, all in people who came into contact with a man who died last month in Lagos.

Nancy Writebol, 59, landed Tuesday in the US state of Georgia on a medical evacuation plane.

An ambulance stood by to carry Writebol to Emory University Hospital (pictured) in the state capital, Atlanta, where her colleague, the missionary doctor Kent Brantly, has received care with a new drug under development.

The two will have no contact with anyone who is not wearing protective gear or standing on the other side of a plate-glass window.

Doctors have described Writebol and Brantly, 33, as becoming critically ill after they treated patients at a missionary clinic in Liberia, one of four nations dealing with the world's largest outbreak of Ebola. The deadly disease has no cure and has killed 60 to 80 percent of the people it has infected in West Africa so far.

The current outbreak of the virus has killed at least 887 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. It is spread by close contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of infected people.

International organizations have pledged hundreds of million dollars toward fighting Ebola.

Authorities in Nigeria have identified a doctor involved in the care of a Liberian-US citizen who died of Ebola last week as being that country's second case. On Tuesday, Health Commissioner Jide Idris said that Nigeria had quarantined a further six people who had made contact with the man, Patrick Sawyer, but who had not shown any symptoms as of yet.

BA cancels flights

Saudi doctors have tested a patient suspected of contracting Ebola during a trip to West Africa, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday. A hospital in Jeddah admitted the Saudi man after he began showing symptoms of hemorrhagic fever upon his return from Sierra Leone. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, severe headaches, muscular pain, and, in the final stages, profuse bleeding.

In April, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on visas for Muslims from those three West African nations wishing to perform the annual pilgrimage to Islamic holy sites in Mecca.

As of Monday, the UN's World Health Organization reported that at least 887 people have died from Ebola since the beginning of the year, after the virus spread across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

On Tuesday, British Airways announced that it had suspended flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone until the end of August owing to the worsening Ebola outbreak. BA has offered customers with tickets to or from the two countries refunds or the opportunity to rebook their flights for a later date.

Reuters, AFP, AP

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