BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — An American health care worker who contracted Ebola while volunteering in a Sierra Leone treatment unit is in serious condition after arriving at the National Institutes of Health’s hospital near Washington, officials said Friday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was checking on people in Sierra Leone, including other Americans, who had contact with the health care worker and may have been exposed to the virus.
One of those people was traveling Friday on a chartered airplane to the Atlanta area to be near Emory University Hospital, where several patients have been treated for the disease, according to a CDC statement. That person has shown no symptoms, is not diagnosed with Ebola and is expected to “voluntarily self-isolate” for a 21-day incubation period.
The NIH patient was flown in isolation from Sierra Leone on a chartered plane and admitted at 4:44 a.m., NIH officials said in a statement.
The patient’s name, age and gender were not released.
The person is a clinician working with Partners in Health, a Boston-based nonprofit organization, according to a statement on the group’s website.
“Our colleague remains in good spirits,” the group said.
Partners in Health declined to release more information, citing a need for privacy for the patient and his or her relatives.
The group has been treating patients in Liberia and Sierra Leone since November.
The patient is the 11th person with Ebola to be treated in the U.S. and the second admitted to the NIH Clinical Center. Like Emory, NIH has one of the few specialized isolation units nationwide set up to treat Ebola patients. Previously, an American nurse was treated there after she contracted Ebola while caring for a patient in a Dallas hospital. The nurse, Nina Pham, survived and is Ebola-free.
None of the volunteers in Sierra Leone who had contact with the NIH patient have tested positive for Ebola. The CDC and the U.S. State Department have developed contingency plans for flying home other Americans in that group, who would also be expected to isolate themselves for 21 days.
The World Health Organization estimated Thursday that the virus has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The current outbreak is the largest ever for the disease. While deaths have slowed dramatically in recent months, the virus appears stubbornly entrenched in parts of Guinea and Sierra Leone.
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