SOURCES: Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Associated Press; Fox News
TUESDAY, Sept. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A fourth American medical worker infected with the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa was brought back to the United States Tuesday morning for treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
The patient, a doctor who was not identified, was transported by a medical plane, which landed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, northwest of Atlanta, according to the Associated Press..
Emory hospital officials said the doctor would be housed in a special isolation unit. The hospital last month successfully treated two other U.S. medical aid workers who had contracted Ebola in Liberia. Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and Nancy Writebol, 59, were flown back last month for aggressive treatment at Emory; both recovered and are no longer contagious.
Although Emory University Hospital released no further details about its new patient, the World Health Organization reported that a doctor working in an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone had tested positive for the disease and was being evacuated, according to AP.
Meanwhile, the remaining American health care worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa appears to be getting better.
Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, is being treated in a special isolation unit of the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. According to the AP, Sacra's family said he was able to eat breakfast Monday for the first time since he arrived on Friday..
The doctor remains in stable condition and his wife, Debbie, said they had a half-hour conversation by video conference Sunday.
"He hasn't been able to eat much since he got here, but he had some toast and apple sauce," she told the AP. "He also tolerated the research drug well -- better than he had the previous doses he was given."
On Sunday, Dr. Phil Smith, director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit, told reporters, "We are encouraged by what we see, but it's too early to say he has turned a corner."
Sacra is receiving an experimental drug that is different from the one that Brantly and Writebol received, Fox News reported.
Sacra is a family doctor who trained and worked in Worcester, Mass., but spent most of the past 20 years in Liberia. He was not treating Ebola patients but working in an obstetrics ward at a hospital in Liberia when he became ill.
U.S. and WHO officials have warned that the virus is spreading faster than health workers in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone can work to contain it.
WHO estimates released Tuesday put the West Africa toll from Ebola at more than 2,200 deaths and 4,200 infections, primarily due to a surge of new cases in Liberia, the AP reported. WHO officials estimate that another 20,000 people could become infected with the virus, which has a mortality rate that can approach 90 percent.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama said the American military will be helping set up isolation units and equipment in West Africa, along with providing protection for public health workers who have been arriving there to try to help contain the outbreak, the AP reported.
"It's still going to be months before this problem is controllable in Africa," Obama said.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Ebola is primarily being spread in West Africa in two ways: The first is among people caring for people with the disease, whether at home or in health-care settings and hospitals; the second is unsafe burial practices.
For more on Ebola, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.