The Washington Post is reporting that Nigerian government officials have confirmed that a physician who treated the late Patrick Sawyer has contracted Ebola. The Aug. 4 story quotes Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu as stating that three other members of the medical team have shown symptoms and test results for them are pending. The authorities continue to try to locate airline passengers who traveled with Sawyer. Sawyer boarded a plane in Liberia symptom-free but was ill upon arrival in Lagos, Nigeria.
On August 3, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Tom Frieden, told Face the Nation that the first Ebola patient brought to the United States for treatment seems to be improving. Dr. Kent Brantly arrived at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Aug. 2 and was able to walk off the transporting ambulance with assistance. Brantly had been flown from Liberia by a medical transport aircraft specially prepared to treat Ebola patients.
SIM announced Aug. 4 that Nancy Writebol, the second American with Ebola in Liberia, will be leaving for Atlanta on Aug. 5. After decontamination, the same medical transport used to carry Dr. Brantly will fly Writebol to the United States. She, too, is going to be treated at the Emory Hospital's isolation facility.
Nigeria is the fourth nation in West Africa to report Ebola illnesses. The outbreak was first reported from rural Guinea in March, 2014. It spread across a nearby border to rural Liberia, and several weeks later, to rural Sierra Leone. In the meantime, Ebola began to be reported from urban areas such as Conakry and Monrovia. The appearance of the viral illness in Lagos, Nigeria, is of concern to public health professionals since the city is believed to be the most populous city in Africa.
Update: The World Health Organization regional office for Africa just released the latest data on the West African Ebola outbreak. Through Aug. 1, there have been 1,603 illnesses and 887 Ebola related deaths. The data includes the Nigerian cases.
Ebola is a viral illness with no treatment and no cure. It is spread from patient to patient through exposure to bodily fluids such as vomit or diarrhea. Symptoms of the disease include fever and headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea and vomiting. While Ebola is called one of the "hemorrhagic fevers", only about half of patients experience the internal and external bleeding that has come to be the widespread conception of the illness.
The survival rate for Ebola patients varies between ten to 50 percent, and is dependent upon the strain of virus and the supportive care the patient receives. There is data to suggest that a small number of people can be exposed to the virus and not develop symptoms. Ebola can only be transmitted to others by patients with symptoms, and only through contact with infected bodily fluids.