Leading Ebola Doctor Contracts the Disease
Sierra Leone virologist being treated by Doctors Without Borders
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2014 4:02 PM CDT
A woman walks near the Arwa clinic, center rear, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where the doctor contracted the virus.   (AP Photo/Youssouf Bah)

(Newser) – A doctor hailed as a "national hero" for his leading role in treating the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone now needs treatment himself, reports UPI. Dr. Sheik Umar Khan caught the disease—which kills about 90% of those infected—and was being treated at a facility run by Doctors Without Borders. There was no word on his condition. Three nurses at the treatment center where the 39-year-old Khan worked died earlier this week, reports Reuters. Since February, WHO has reported more than 1,000 cases and 632 fatalities in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. About 50 of those deaths were health-care workers.

Colleagues say Khan followed the protocol for protecting himself against infected patients with precision, although the nation's chief medical officer tells UPI that more help is needed for doctors and nurses. "I am afraid for my life," Khan himself told Reuters in a previous interview, demonstrating how he checked his clothes in a mirror for rips and tears. In a sign of the mounting frustration in the region, the brother of a 14-year-old boy who died set fire to the Health Ministry in Liberia today. (Click to read about how the virus may have been lurking for years before the latest outbreak.)

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Jul 24, 2014 10:29 AM CDT
having been in monrovia, liberia from march - may of this year, i can say this is truly frightening. at the US embassy briefing, meant to assuage the mounting panic about the rate of transmission and the first cases appearing in monrovia, the WHO rep repeatedly asserted that this would "burn itself out" because it was deadly and that we had "nothing to worry about". she insisted that if a patient is ambulatory, it was highly likely they weren't contagious. and she said all of this with a patronizing tone that dismissed our concerns as overreaction. i wonder what she's saying now... the vast majority of medical staff, mostly locals, treating these patients are WOEFULLY under prepared and underfunded -- i mean working with latex gloves, masks, gowns, and not much else. the population is dense in the main cities, due to displacement, and people are scared. education has been almost nonexistent for the last 2 generations, so it can be difficult to make people understand WHY they need to take the suggested precautions. to make matters worse, those who think they have contracted ebola often go into hiding because they're scared. then there are those whose livelihood depend on selling and/or eating bushmeat, further increasing the risk of transmission. it is a scary, complex situation.
Jul 24, 2014 7:37 AM CDT
Wow, Could this be the beginning of the next Pandemic? A disease with no cure? I certainly hope the "Best" minds in the world are working on this potential global disaster. Two years ago, I was bitten by a copperhead snake. I wonder if I am now protected from Ebola? I told everyone that something good would develop from that snake bite. BTW: I did not kill the snake. It was not his fault I was being stupid. It did not take place at a Church service either.
Marked as Spam?
Jul 24, 2014 2:05 AM CDT
There were trials on a vaccine conducted way back in 2003 that looked promising, but the pace has been slow. I guess, as long as it stays in Africa, it isn't a big enough money maker to be considered a priority.