'Hero' Ebola Doctor Dies; US Physician Is 'Grave'

Disease threatens to spread to Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria

By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 29, 2014 1:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, one of the leading doctors fighting Sierra Leone's Ebola outbreak, died today of the virus in yet another high-profile casualty, reports the BBC. The death of the man hailed by the government as a "national hero" comes as Nigeria, the continent's most populous country, recorded its first case of the infectious disease, reports Reuters. The death was that of a Liberian consultant who collapsed in the Lagos airport on July 20, and health authorities have quarantined the hospital that cared for him. Meanwhile, American doctor Kent Brantly has a "grave" prognosis in Liberia as his family in Texas asks for prayers, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The 33-year-old tested positive last week.

Liberia has closed its border crossings; Nigeria’s airports, seaports, and borders have been on "red alert"; and West African airports are screening passengers for signs of illness. Since February, 1,200 people have been infected with Ebola, and 672 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have died; the fatality rate in this outbreak is 60%. Here’s what you need to know about Ebola:

  • It's possible that Ebola can jump from animals to humans through "bush meat" such as apes, monkeys, antelope, and porcupines, reports NBC News. Once an outbreak starts, it moves from person to person.
  • The fatality rate is 50% to 90%. Early treatment is vital.
  • The virus spreads through bodily fluids such as vomit and diarrhea; it’s infectious when the victim shows symptoms and remains so after the patient's death. Many have contracted Ebola by preparing a corpse for burial.
  • Up to 60% of patients will bleed from the eyes and skin.
  • There is no cure, and antivirals aren’t effective.
  • The only way to get a diagnosis is with a blood test, adds the Wall Street Journal.

In this photo taken on Monday, July 28, 2014, people hang out in a street under a  banner which warns people to be cautious about Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia.
In this photo taken on Monday, July 28, 2014, people hang out in a street under a banner which warns people to be cautious about Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia.   (AP Photo/Jonathan Paye-Layleh)
A man reads a newspaper on a Lagos street with the headline Ebola Virus kills Liberian in Lagos, Saturday, July 26, 2014.
A man reads a newspaper on a Lagos street with the headline Ebola Virus kills Liberian in Lagos, Saturday, July 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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