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Ebola outbreak infects first Americans: Doctors becoming part of the death toll

If the death toll wasn't bad enough in the current Ebola outbreak crisis in West Africa, the horrific hemorrhagic pathogen has now started to make inroads into those that are trying their best to contain it -- the doctors. In the past week, one of the lead doctors in Sierra Leone's fight against the epidemic that began in March fell ill to the deadly hemorrhagic fever. A top Liberian health official died from the virus as well. And now an American doctor reportedly has been infected.

The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) July 26 that Dr. Kent Brantly of Fort Worth, Texas, contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia. His condition was made public through the North Carolina-based organization Samaritan's Purse, with which Brantly worked as medical director of the case management center with the nation's capital city.

Dr. Kent Brantly's work involved coming into contact with patients of the virus. As the Associated Press noted, photos of the doctor show him among those infected with Ebola, wearing white coveralls.

Brantly was conscious of the dangers of the viral pathogen to health care workers, posting to Samaritan's Purse's website earlier this year: "The hospital is taking great effort to be prepared. In past Ebola outbreaks, many of the casualties have been healthcare workers who contracted the disease through their work caring for infected individuals."

Brantly is one of two Americans currently known to have tested positive for the Ebola virus, according to USA Today. Nancy Writebol, a female missionary worker for SIM, a mission group that works alongside Samaritan's Purse in a joint operation, is also being treated. From North Carolina, she was helping treat patients in Monrovia.

Both Brantly and Writebol have spouses and two children.

All told, there are at least 100 health care workers that have contracted the virus, about half of whom have died. This is a far better ratio than the virus' usual kill ratio. A particularly merciless virus, it has a fatality rate of 90 percent.

And the virus is non-discriminatory, taking the average citizen as well as those who fight to save them, like Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a top Liberian health official, who became ill earlier in the month while he was treating Ebola patients at the country's largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia. The Boston Herald reported he died Saturday, according to assistant health minister, Tolbert Nyenswah.

An Ugandan doctor died earlier this month as well.

The World Health Organization said, again according to USA Today, that the number of dead total 672, with the number of confirmed cases of Ebola at 1,201. With Nigeria recording its first death, the hemorrhagic fever now has been uncovered in four different countries, the other three being Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, all of which have so far borne the brunt of the epidemic.

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