2 Americans Catch Ebola In Liberia, As Nigeria Reports First Case

Originally published on July 28, 2014 8:09 pm

News about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to go from bad to worse.

Last week a doctor leading the fight against the outbreak got sick in Sierra Leone. Now two American aid workers have tested positive for the virus in Liberia, and the outbreak has likely spread to a fourth country, Nigeria.

The Nigerian government said Friday that a Liberian man died of Ebola at a hospital in Lagos — Africa's most populous city, with more than 20 million people. Although the World Health Organization hasn't confirmed the Nigerian case, the hospital has been shut down and patients there quarantined, Reuters reported.

All the while, the total number of cases continues to climb. So far, there have been 1,201 cases, including 672 deaths, WHO said Friday.

The first American to catch Ebola in the outbreak is Dr. Kent Brantly. The 33-year-old family doctor from Fort Worth, Texas, was infected while treating patients in Monrovia, the nonprofit Samaritan's Purse said Sunday on its website.

Brantly is the medical director at an Ebola treatment center in Liberia's capital. The clinic, where he is now being treated, is run by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian aid group based in Boone, N.C. "He [Brantly] is in stable condition, talking with his doctors and working on his computer while receiving care," the Charlotte Observer reported.

Brantly's wife and two children were initially with him in West Africa, but his family had already returned to Texas when the doctor first noticed his own symptoms and admitted himself to the clinic.

The second American to catch the disease in Liberia is missionary Nancy Writebol, of Charlotte, N.C. She and her husband have also been working with Samaritan's Purse to help Ebola patients in Monrovia.

"It's just devastating news," Writebol's pastor, the Rev. John Munro, told the Charlotte Observer on Monday. "Initially, they thought it might be malaria. ... She's not doing well. It's grim news," he added.

Nigeria's first suspected Ebola case was Patrick Sawyer, who worked for the Liberian Finance Ministry. Sawyer flew to Lagos on Sunday, July 20. He collapsed at the international airport there and was immediately rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Liberia has closed many of its border crossings to try to stop the outbreak from spreading further, Reuters reported Monday.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.