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Third American missionary contracts Ebola in Liberia

Liberian health workers outside the home of a man that they believed died from the Ebola virus in Monrovia. Associated Press/Photo by Abbas Dulleh

Third American missionary contracts Ebola in Liberia

North Carolina-based Christian aid group SIM USA said Tuesday another American doctor has contracted Ebola in Liberia.

The doctor was treating obstetrics patients at SIM’s ELWA hospital in Monrovia, the organization said. That’s the same hospital where SIM missionary Nancy Writebol and Samaritan’s Purse doctor Kent Brantly fell ill in July.

The doctor, who has not been named, “is doing well and is in good spirits,” a press release states. But how he contracted the virus is not clear because it requires direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is sick. He was not treating Ebola patients in the isolation ward, which is housed in a different building on the mission’s 136-acre campus, the organization said.

“My heart was deeply saddened, but my faith was not shaken, when I learned another of our missionary doctors contracted Ebola,” SIM USA President Bruce Johnson said in a statement. “As a global mission, we are surrounding our missionary with prayer, as well as our … colleagues, who continue fighting the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.”

The SIM doctor is not the first to contract the disease without working directly with Ebola patients. A Senegalese epidemiologist working for the World Health Organization continues to receive treatment in Germany after falling ill in Sierra Leone. He wasn’t supposed to be in contact with patients either, the WHO said last week, as it evacuated the rest of its team from the city where the man was infected. Daniel Kertesz, Sierra Leone’s WHO representative, said he feared the team’s exhaustion and stress could lead to mistakes.

Meanwhile, food prices continue to rise and commercial airlines continue to restrict flights to affected countries, hampering efforts to send additional and replacement aid workers. Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu pleaded for aid Tuesday, calling on more countries to step up. Liu said waves of patients throughout the region have overwhelmed her teams.

“Six months into the worse Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it,” Liu said at a United Nations forum. “Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered.”

The outbreak has killed more than 1,500 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. At least one person is now sick in Senegal’s capital of Dakar after somehow slipping through the country’s closed border with Guinea.

An unrelated outbreak has sickened an estimated 53 people and killed 31 in a remote part of Congo, the WHO said Tuesday. It’s more consistent with historical outbreaks in that region of Africa.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andrew Branch Andrew is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.


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