Doctor With Ebola ‘Extremely’ Ill, Says Nebraska Hospital

A physician infected with the Ebola virus is in “extremely critical condition” at the Nebraska Medical Center where he arrived yesterday to receive care, said Taylor Wilson, a hospital spokesman.

The patient was identified by the United Methodist Church as Martin Salia, chief medical officer and surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. That facility was closed Nov. 11 after Salia tested positive for Ebola, the church said.

The hospital is using the maximum supportive care possible to try to save his life, Nebraska Medical Center said in a statement. He is the sixth doctor in Sierra Leone to be infected with the deadly virus; the other five died.

“This is an hour-by-hour situation,” Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at the hospital and a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said in a statement. “He is extremely ill. We have multiple highly trained specialists who are experts in their fields targeting his most serious medical issues.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the patient, a permanent U.S. resident from Sierra Leone, was evacuated at the request of his wife, who lives in Maryland and will reimburse the U.S. government for the expense. Previous evacuation flights have cost about $200,000.

Third Patient

Salia is the third person treated for the deadly virus at Nebraska Medical Center, following a missionary worker, Rick Sacra, and a freelance journalist, Ashoka Mukpo. Both were evacuated from West Africa after becoming infected, and recovered. The Omaha medical center has a sealed biocontainment unit separate from other areas used to care for patients. Treatment for the Ebola patients has included experimental drugs and blood serum from an Ebola survivor.

While the virus has spread throughout West Africa, killing more than 5,170, its impact has been mostly limited to the countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. A separate outbreak in Congo which killed at least 49 people is over, the Associated Press reported yesterday, citing Congo’s Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi.

Eight people treated in U.S. hospitals have been cured. The only person to die of Ebola in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, was initially released from a Dallas hospital in September before returning with worsening symptoms. Two nurses were infected after contact with Duncan; both recovered.

There is no specific treatment to cure the disease. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. They are frequently dehydrated and need intravenous fluids or oral rehydration with solutions that contain electrolytes.

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