World

Ebola outbreak: U.S. permanent resident contracts virus in Africa

A surgeon working in West Africa's Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola and will be flown to the United States for treatment on Saturday, according to a person in the federal government with direct knowledge of the case.

Patient set to arrive at Omaha treatment centre on Saturday

In this 2006 file photo, a mock patient is wheeled in an isolation pod during a drill at the biocontainment unit in the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. A federal government source said Thursday a surgeon working in West Africa's Sierra Leone will be flown to the centre for treatment on Saturday. (Nati Harnik/The Associated Press)

A surgeon working in West Africa's Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola and will be flown to the United States for treatment on Saturday, according to a person in the federal government with direct knowledge of the case.

The surgeon, Dr. Martin Salia, will be treated at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the person said. A Sierra Leone citizen, the 44-year-old Salia lives in Maryland and is a legal permanent U.S. resident, according to the person, who was not authorized to release the information and spoke on condition of anonymity

The doctor will be the third Ebola patient at the Omaha hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the U.S. The last, Dr. Craig Spencer, was released from a New York hospital on Tuesday

In this file photo taken on Oct. 21, 2014, a healthcare worker in protective gear sprays disinfectant around the house of a person suspected to have the Ebola virus in Port Loko Community, situated on the outskirts of Freetown. Sierra Leone's chief medical said Thursday Martin Salia has become the sixth Sierra Leonean doctor to become infected in this outbreak. (Michael Duff/The Associated Press)

In a statement Thursday, the Nebraska Medical Center said it had no official confirmation that it would be treating another patient, but that an Ebola patient in Sierra Leone would be evaluated for possible transport to the hospital. The patient would arrive Saturday afternoon.

Salia is a general surgeon who had been working at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown, according to the person familiar with the case. He came down with symptoms of Ebola on Nov. 6 but test results were negative for the virus. He was tested again on Monday, and he tested positive. Salia is in stable condition at an Ebola treatment centre in Freetown. It wasn't clear whether he had been involved in the care of Ebola patients.

Sierra Leone is one of the three West Africa nations hit hard by an Ebola epidemic this year. The disease has killed more than 5,000 people, mostly in Sierra Leona, Guinea and Liberia.

An ambulance carrying an American freelance cameraman who contracted Ebola in Liberia, Ashoka Mukpo, is shown arriving Oct. 6 at the Nebraska Medical Center. He eventually recovered. (Eric Francis/Getty Images)

The State Department said in a statement late Thursday, that along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it had been in touch with the Maryland wife of an unidentified Ebola patient about transferring him to the Nebraska Medical Center for care.

The hospital in Omaha is one of four U.S. hospitals with specialized treatment units for people with highly dangerous infectious diseases. It was chosen for the latest patient because workers at units at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital and the National Institutes of Health near Washington are still in a 21-day monitoring period.

Those two hospitals treated two Dallas nurses who were infected while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who fell ill with Ebola shortly after arriving in the U.S. and later died.

The other eight Ebola patients in the U.S. recovered, including the nurses. Five were American aid workers who became infected in West Africa while helping care for patients there; one was a video journalist.

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