Hospital authorities in the US have confirmed that an American doctor, who was infected with the Ebola virus while working in a Liberian maternity ward, is 'sick but stable'.
Rick Sacra, 51, arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center early Friday, becoming the third US healthcare worker to be evacuated from West Africa amid the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
More than 2,000 people have died from the contagious virus in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria since the beginning of the year, the World Health Organization said.
"Our patient is sick but stable," said Mark Rupp, an infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medical Center, which maintains a special isolation unit for care of such patients.
"We know that he is seriously ill with a virus that has a fairly high mortality rate associated with it," Rupp told reporters.
"We will continue to care for him with very aggressive supportive care and we are looking into alternatives from some of our experimental therapeutics."
Serum from a surviving patient, or drug treatments that interfere with the virus but have never been tested in people are among the options being considered, Rupp said.
There are no drug treatments on the market for Ebola, and no vaccines to prevent it, though the crisis has accelerated clinical trials to test and bring remedies to the market.
Sacra is the third Christian missionary healthcare worker from the United States to fall ill from Ebola in Africa.
The others, doctor Kent Brantly and aid worker Nancy Writebol, recovered and were released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia last month.
They received an experimental drug called ZMapp, but it is difficult to produce and no more doses are available for now, officials have said.
It remains unclear how Sacra came down with Ebola. He was said to be working in a maternity ward, and was not specifically treating Ebola patients.
SIM USA president Bruce Johnson said the Christian aid group was cooperating with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out what exact contact Sacra had with Ebola.
Sacra noticed he had a rising fever on Monday. He isolated himself, and emailed his superiors at SIM USA.
"To all of you at SIM and to my colleagues here in Liberia at ELWA hospital, I apologize," said Johnson, reading portions of Sacra's email message to reporters.
"I know and accept there is no easy solution for an evacuation so I don't expect one. Jesus is right here with me in Liberia," the letter continued.
"I know that with or without evacuation, I could well die of this disease," he added, expressing concern for his wife and sons and for the other healthcare workers and patients on the ground.
Ebola causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases, internal hemorrhaging. The current outbreak has been fatal to about half of those infected.
It is transmissible through close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, or by touching the corpse of a person who has recently died of the infection.