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Ebola spreads, thousands quarantined in Liberia

The Ebola virus that has killed nearly 1,500 people in the latest outbreak, the deadliest of the disease to date in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, has also killed an unprecedented number of health care workers charged with treating Ebola patients.

A member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) wearing protective gear walks outside the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital, on July 23, 2014 in Conakry.
Photo/AFP

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that more than 120 health care workers have died from the Ebola virus epidemic in Africa, calling the number of healthcare worker deaths "unprecedented."

Dr. Abraham Borbor was among three Africans to receive an experimental Ebola drug has died, the country's information minister said Monday. Dr. Borbor, the deputy chief medical doctor at Liberia's largest hospital received the untested drug, ZMapp, after it was given to two Americans.

In a statement on Monday, the WHO said more than 240 health care workers working in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone have developed the disease with "more than 120" succumbing to the epidemic.

In late July, the first two Americans tested positive for Ebola in Africa, were later identified as Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and Nancy Writebol, a missionary health care worker were transported back to the U.S. for treatment survived after being given the experimental drug ZMapp at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. When the two were released last week, their doctors said it is not know whether the drug helped them or not.

After the experimental drug ZMapp was administered to two Americans and a Spanish priest infected with the virus in Africa, an intense ethical debate ensued. ZMapp, while in short supply, had shown promising results in the two Americans, although the priest died.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says Ebola is a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever that kills humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) quickly, killing over 50 percent of victims, depending on the strain.

In April, an international team of scientists reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that a 2 years old boy likely triggered the entire Ebola outbreak in Guinea.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says the first recorded Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically.

A fact sheet from the National Academies and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists the Ebola virus as a biological agent of concern for terrorist attacks.