Monrovia, Liberia (4E) – An American doctor and aid worker helping to treat people infected with Ebola in Liberia tested positive for the deadly virus and are now being treated themselves.
Christian missionary group Serving in Mission (SIM) on Sunday identified the aid worker as Nancy Writebol of Charlotte, North Carolina. Writebol was helping a joint SIM-Samaritan’s Purse team treating Ebola patients at the Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.
On Saturday, the Christian humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse said its doctor, Kent Brantley, 33, of Fort Worth, Texas fell ill from the virus.
The two Americans are now undergoing treatment in isolation at the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia. SIM manages the hospital.
Brantley and Writebol have been in Liberia with their families since last year as part of their missionary and humanitarian work.
The World Health Organization said Ebola has infected 1,093 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as of July 20 making it the worst outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. Out of the figure, which includes those who tested positive from the virus and those suspected of having the disease, 660 have died.
A total 786 tested positive from Ebola and 442 of them died. Among the fatalities was Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a senior doctor at Liberia’s largest hospital. He died in Sierra Leone on Saturday.
On Friday, a Liberian man died from the virus in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city with 20 million people, threatening to spread the outbreak in Africa’s most populous country.
A doctor treating Ebola patients at Kenema Government Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone was also infected with the virus. Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan is being treated by the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, agency spokesman Tim Shenk said, according to CNN.
The Ebola virus is spread through bodily fluids and secretions making health workers at high risk of getting infected. Symptoms such as fever, headache and fatigue appear after 20 days so infected people do not immediately know they are infected. Victims die within 10 days from hemorrhaging. There is no treatment and vaccine for Ebola infection but some survive with hydration.
The current outbreak started in Guinea in February spreading to Sierra Leone and Liberia the following month.