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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/30/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Virus sweeping through West Africa deemed the deadliest such outbreak in history

American Patrick Sawyer, who worked as a top government official in the Liberian Ministry of Finance, had been caring for his Ebola-stricken sister in Liberia. Returning home, he collapsed and died, the first known American to have perished from the deadly virus. The incident has hit home just how vulnerable anyone is to the horrific disease.

Patrick Sawyer has become the first American to die from the deadly Ebola virus.

Patrick Sawyer has become the first American to die from the deadly Ebola virus.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/30/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Ebola, American death, West Africa, contagion


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sawyer was unaware that his sister had Ebola, his wife says. Health officials are calling the "deadliest Ebola outbreak in history." Sawyer's death has sparked concerns that the virus could potentially spread to the U.S.

Up until Sawyer's death on July 20, the Ebola outbreak had been contained to three West African countries: Guinea, where it began, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sawyer is the first known case outside of these three countries.

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The World Health Organization or WHO had confirmed more than 800 Ebola cases in the region last week. There have been many unreported infections and there may be more like 1,200 cases. Sierra Leone has been hardest hit with approximately 525 cases.

The country of Guinea has the most suspected Ebola deaths, and the epidemic has been in that country longer. It is believed the epidemic began in the nation's capital of Conakry.

While international leaders have mobilized to fight the epidemic, it can be a difficult one to stop. It is so highly infectious that it typically kills 90 percent of those who contract it. The death rate in this particular outbreak had dropped to roughly 60 percent since it has been treated early in many instances. There is, however, no Ebola vaccination.

Two American aid workers in Liberia's capital city, Monrovia, were confirmed to have the disease last week. Doctors and medical staff are particularly vulnerable to the virus because it spreads through exposure to bodily fluids from the infected. Ebola can also spread through contact with an object contaminated by an infected person's bodily fluids.

It is believed one of the local staff was infected with Ebola and came to work with the virus on Monday and Tuesday.

"We think it was in the scrub-down area where the disease was passed to both Nancy and Kent," a medical official said, noting that the staff member died on Thursday.

Both 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary assistant Nancy Writebol are in stable conditions, according to a statement. Both patients are still exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

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