BOSTON (CBS/AP) – A doctor from central Massachusetts infected with the Ebola virus arrived in Nebraska Friday to begin treatment.
Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, of Holden, traveled to Liberia recently to re-open a hospital. On Monday, tests confirmed he had contracted Ebola. Sacra wasn’t involved in the treatment of Ebola patients but delivered babies, so it’s unclear how he got infected with the virus that has killed about 1,900 people.
Sacra is being treated at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where there’s a 10-bed isolation unit. The hospital is one of four in the U.S. with a bio-containment unit.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Dr. Mark Rupp said he wouldn’t share specific details about Sacra’s condition, only saying he is “sick, but stable” and that his trip from Liberia to Nebraska went smoothly.
He is the third American aid worker sickened with Ebola.
The two others were treated at an Atlanta hospital and both recovered, but the experimental medication used to treat them has been completely used up.
Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Omaha unit, said doctors there will focus on providing Sacra with basic care, including keeping him hydrated and keeping his vital signs stable. Smith said a team of 35 doctors, nurses and other medical staffers will attend to Sacra.
The team is discussing experimental treatments, including using blood serum from a patient who has recovered from Ebola, Smith said.
“We’ve been trying to collect as much information on possible treatments as we can,” Smith said.
There are no licensed drugs or vaccines for the disease, but about a half dozen are in development. None has been tested in humans, but an early trial of one vaccine began this week in the United States.
Much attention has focused on the unproven drug ZMapp, which was given to seven patients, two of whom died. But the limited supply is now exhausted and its developer says it will take months to make even a modest amount.
The first two American aid workers infected by Ebola — Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol — have recovered since being flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.
Smith and several other doctors with the unit repeatedly said Sacra’s transfer to Omaha posed no threat to the public, noting Ebola is transmitted through close contact with an infected person.
At a news conference at UMass Medical School Thursday, Sacra’s wife said her husband was “in very good spirits and he walked onto the plane” for the international flight.
The Sacras have served as missionaries for years. They split time between their home in Holden and Liberia. Dr. Sacra also has a family practice in Worcester.
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