, WASHINGTON, Jul 28 – Two Americans involved in the treatment of Ebola victims in Liberia have become infected with the West African epidemic, an aid agency said Sunday.
Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity, said that its physician Kent Brantly was in stable condition and had been isolated at the group’s Ebola treatment center at the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia.
His symptoms included intermittent fever and body aches.
Nancy Writebol, a missionary with the SIM Christian charity that runs the hospital, was also in stable condition as of Sunday morning, according to Samaritan’s Purse.
“They’re both receiving intensive early treatment, but certainly it’s a dangerous situation and a frightening situation,” spokeswoman Melissa Strickland told AFP.
She emphasized that early treatment was one key to recovery from the deadly disease.
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola outbreaks have a fatality rate of up to 90 percent.
Writebol had been working as a hygienist responsible for detoxifying protective suits worn by those entering and exiting an Ebola isolation center.
She has a husband and two children, Samaritan’s Purse said, adding that Brantly, 33, was also married with two children.
Brantly is the medical director of the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola case management center in Liberia, where the agency continues to work with Liberian and international health officials to contain the outbreak.
He began work with the group’s Liberia team in October and had focused on Ebola patients since June.
Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever with a very high fatality rate. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have borne the brunt of the recent epidemic, and last week Nigeria recorded its first death.
As of July 20, the number of Ebola cases recorded in the months-long epidemic stood at 1,093, including more than 660 deaths, according to the WHO.
The virus can fell victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.
Ebola is believed to be carried by animals hunted for meat, notably bats. It spreads among humans via bodily fluids including sweat, meaning you can get sick from touching an infected person.
With no vaccine, patients believed to have caught the virus must be isolated to prevent further contagion.
Ebola first emerged in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is named after a river there.