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U.S. doctor contracts Ebola in Liberia

International Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse announced July 26 that Dr. Kent Brantly has contracted Ebola while working for the organization in Liberia. Dr. Brantly is Medical Director for the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. Brantly is married and has two children.

Dr. Kent Brantly issues medication orders at a Samaritan’s Purse isolation center
Dr. Kent Brantly issues medication orders at a Samaritan’s Purse isolation center
© 2014 Samaritan’s Purse. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

WFAA reports that Dr. Brantly is from Fort Worth, TX. He is 33 and has been working in Liberia since October. He was taking part in a post-residency program when the Ebola outbreak began.

Ebola is a viral illness that has appeared irregularly in Africa since it was first identified in the Congo in 1976. The current outbreak is unique since it is the first time that Ebola has been introduced into an urban environment. All other outbreaks were in rural, fairly isolated locations.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is new to West Africa. It was first identified in Guinea in March, 2014, and has since spread. Liberia was the next nation affected. Sierra Leone is the latest.

The World Health Organization issues regular reports updating the number of Ebola cases in the West African outbreak. Through July 20, they have received reports of 1,093 illnesses and 660 deaths.

Brantly is not the first physician to contract Ebola during this outbreak. CNN reported on July 24 that Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan had contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone. He was charged with "overseeing Ebola treatment and isolation units at Kenema Government Hospital." Dr. Samuel Mutoro, a physician from Uganda working for the Liberian government died July 4 from Ebola, South Africa Today reported.

Many other health care workers have become infected during the Ebola outbreak, and some have died. There is no accurate count but Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia stated on its Twitter account just before the announcement of Dr. Brantly's illness: "Expanded our 20 bed unit in Monrovia as Ebola cases continue to pour in, most of the cases are health care workers."