US missionary with Ebola en route to Nebraska

2014-09-05 13:05
A mock patient is cared for during a drill at the Nebraska biocontainment unit in the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. (Nati Harnik, AP)

A mock patient is cared for during a drill at the Nebraska biocontainment unit in the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. (Nati Harnik, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Omaha - A third US health missionary infected with the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia left the West African country's capital on Thursday in a plane headed for the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the Christian organization SIM USA said.

Dr. Rick Sacra, a 51-year-old Boston physician, is the latest worker for SIM USA to be infected with the virus that has killed more than 1 900 people.

A Reuters cameraman saw Sacra, wearing white protective clothing, step out of the car that brought him to the tarmac and walk onto the aircraft.

The plane was expected to arrive in Omaha on Friday morning, hospital officials and SIM USA said. Sacra will begin receiving treatment in the hospital's Biocontainment Patient Care Unit, SIM USA said in a statement.

Sacra is in "reasonably stable shape. He's had a number of complications of his disease," but apparently was able to get on the plane under his own power, Dr. Phil Smith, director of the biocontainment unit, told a news briefing in Omaha.

Smith said Sacra would be given supportive care by a team of 30 to 35 people.

Receiving 'excellent care'

But he said there were no more doses of Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc's experimental drug, ZMapp, which was given to the other two US health missionaries who had contracted Ebola. Doctors, however, said it was not clear whether the drug had contributed to their eventual recovery.

SIM USA President Bruce Johnson said Sacra had been receiving "excellent care" from the group's staff in Liberia but said the Nebraska facility would provide advanced monitoring equipment and more treatment options.

Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown confirmed that the plane carrying Sacra was identical to the Gulfstream jet that ferried Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, who contracted the disease in July while working at SIM USA'S health centre in Liberia, back to the US.

The Nebraska facility is similar to the one at Emory University in Atlanta where Writebol and Brantly were treated.

The 10-bed unit is one of four that were commissioned by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005. The other two facilities are in Maryland and Montana.

Ebola a 'wildfire about to rage'

The Nebraska unit, the largest of the four, is isolated from the rest of the hospital and has its own ventilation system and security access, according to the Nebraska Medical Centre website.

Sacra's wife, Debbie, speaking at a news conference at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said SIM had sent an American physician to assist with her husband's treatment and to begin organising his evacuation.

"Rick and I have a close and loving marriage and his trips to Liberia are a part of our lives, but that doesn't make them easy," she said in a statement on the university's website.

She urged people to find a way "to meet the needs of Liberia and its neighbours in this time of fear and suffering. As Rick wrote to his medical colleagues, this epidemic is a wildfire about to rage out of control."

Sacra volunteered to return to Liberia when Writebol and Brantly became infected.

Sacra had not been caring for Ebola patients but was delivering babies, and had been following protocols to prevent the spread of the disease, the group said. It was not known how he contracted the virus.

Read more on:    us  |  liberia  |  ebola

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.