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US doctor infected with Ebola as disease spreads

Published on 28/07/14 at 10:28am
WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan has warned about the continued spread of the virus

An American doctor working with Ebola patients in Liberia has been infected with the virus as health officials struggle to combat the spread of fatal disease.

Reports by Reuters say that Dr Kent Brantly recognised his symptoms and confined himself to an isolation ward at a hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia.

The disease has killed at least 672 people in four West African countries since the outbreak began in February in Guinea, having now spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, making it the world's deadliest outbreak to date.

Ebola is highly contagious and kills up to 90% of people infected and is passed by touching bodily fluids of patients, and can still be infectious even after they die.

There have also been local reports over the weekend saying that a prominent Liberian doctor, Samuel Brisbane, has now died after a three-week battle with the virus.

Dr Brantly is a medical director at an Ebola case management centre run by aid organisation Samaritan’s Purse.

Photos show him working in white overalls made of a synthetic material that he wore for several hours each day while treating Ebola patients.

Earlier this year, he was quoted on the organisation’s website about efforts to maintain an isolation ward for patients.

“The hospital is taking great effort to be prepared,” Dr Brantly told local media.

“In past Ebola outbreaks, many of the casualties have been healthcare workers who contracted the disease through their work caring for infected individuals.”

He is now said to be stable and doctors are hopeful that he can make a full recovery given that it was caught early.

According to the BBC, the disease has now spread to three countries, with the latest stats being released over the weekend:

  • Guinea: 314 deaths, 415 cases
  • Liberia: 127 deaths, 224 cases
  • Sierra Leone: 219 deaths, 454 cases

Ben Adams

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