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US doctor who never treated Ebola patients contracts deadly virus

Ebola patient

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(NaturalNews) A third American has contracted Ebola while working in Africa, and reports indicate that he never even treated any patients that were diagnosed with the disease. According to NPR, Dr. Rick Sacra has worked in Liberia as a physician since 1995, and more recently offered to help at hospitals overwhelmed with patients due to the Ebola crisis. But Dr. Sacra somehow caught the virus without ever treating a single Ebola patient, and experts aren't sure how.

The 51-year-old family physician signed on with the Christian aid group SIM back in the late 1980s and, between 2008 and 2010, served as the group's acting medical director of ELWA Hospital in Monrovia. Before that, he had served as SIM's Liberia director, only to more recently volunteer in the obstetrics ward at ELWA Hospital's main facility.

This facility is separate from the Ebola ward, where Ebola patients are currently being treated in supposed isolation. But Dr. Sacra began to come down with symptoms indicative of a possible Ebola infection, including elevated temperature. Dr. Sacra voluntarily quarantined himself over the weekend, monitoring his own temperature, but eventually opted to be sent back to the U.S. for treatment.

"Rick called and said 'I'm ready to go,'" stated SIM President Bruce Johnson to reporters at a recent press conference. "They [Sacra and another doctor who was not identified] knew the risks going in."

Ebola clearly can't be contained, even in 'isolation units'

During his time at the obstetrics ward, Dr. Sacra had reportedly followed all the guidelines issued by both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Doctors Without Borders for dealing with possible exposure to Ebola. He had worn all the appropriate protective gear, masks and other equipment that authorities insist is adequate to prevent infection.

But a CDC-issued Ebola test came back positive, and Dr. Sacra was eventually flown back to the Nebraska Medical Center at the University of Nebraska, after first undergoing treatment at ELWA. Today, he is reported to be in "sick but stable" condition and is being held in a so-called "biocontainment unit" at the Midwest facility.

"Our patient is sick but stable and we are taking appropriate care of this patient," stated Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of infectious diseases at the hospital, during a recent news conference. "We know that he is seriously ill with a virus that has a very high mortality rate associated with it. We are looking for alternatives to some of our experimental therapeutics right now."

Containing Ebola spread may no longer be an option

With all of these infected individuals being flown in and out of the U.S. for treatment, it is only a matter of time before the disease escapes a "biocontainment unit" and spreads within the general population. Doctors Without Borders has already publicly admitted to PBS that the world is "losing the battle to contain it," and another public health official told the news organization that "the window is closing" to contain Ebola.

A simulated prediction model compiled using data from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that the U.S. had about a 5 percent chance of importing an Ebola outbreak on September 1. But by September 22, the probability jumps to 18 percent, a 360 percent increase.

"What is happening in West Africa is going to get here," stated Alessandro Vespignani, author of the study that made this prediction, to NPR. "We can't escape that at this point. ... Sooner or later, they will arrive."

More details about Vespignani's study are available here:

Learn more about natural defenses against viral outbreaks at BioDefense.com.

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