On Thursday, the third American aid worker to contract the deadly Ebola virus Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, from Holden, Massachusetts will return to the United States for treatment.
Dr. Sacra and the other two Americans contracted the virus at the same Liberian hospital where they worked for the missionary organization SIM, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. SIM officials made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday to update the condition of Nancy Writebol, one of the other two patients that contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia.
Dr. Sacra, who is being treated at EVM Hospital outside of Monrovia where he was treating obstetrics patients, not Ebola victims, like the other two health care workers will be transported in an aerobio-medical containment system, otherwise known as “the pod,” to the United States for treatment.
Dr. Sacra graduated from UMass Medical School in 1989 and has been on the medical staff of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health at UMass Memorial Medical Center since 2010. According to UMass Medical School, Sacra has spent much of his career working overseas, and has made frequent working trips over the past two decades to Liberia.
In late August, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, while in Liberia to assess the Ebola outbreak called the situation "overwhelming," and emphasized the need for a global response. Frieden warned that the deadly Ebola virus outbreak will get worse before it gets better.
Dr. Frieden explained that there are far more cases than reported because there are not enough health workers to maintain new cases/records. The outbreak "really is a crisis and is affecting most if not all the counties in Liberia already," he told NPR from Monrovia.
Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described the number of healthcare workers that have contracted the deadly virus as "absolutely unprecedented."
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. Members of the Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, the terrorist group that released the nerve gas Sarin in the Tokyo subway in 1995, traveled to Zaire in 1992 to obtain samples of Ebola virus. Aum Shinrikyo is an example of a large well financed organization that was attempting to develop biological weapons capability.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) Disaster Information Management Research Center has a new webpage, Ebola Outbreak 2014: that provides various information resources related to the outbreak.