Massachusetts Doctor Contracts Ebola - NECN


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Massachusetts Doctor Contracts Ebola

The third American Ebola patient has been identified as Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, of Boston, according to officials with the aid group SIM USA



    The third American aid worker who has contracted Ebola has been identified as Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, of Massachusetts, according to officials with the aid group SIM USA. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014)

    A third American aid worker who has contracted Ebola has been identified as Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, of Massachusetts, according to officials with the aid group SIM.

    The news was announced at an 11 a.m. news conference with SIM officials in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Francis Anthes, president and CEO of Family Health Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, confirmed Wednesday that Sacra worked there. He said they last had contact with Sacra's family on Tuesday when they were notified that he had contracted Ebola.

    Photo credit: SIM USA

    Sacra, who is from Holden, Massachusetts, was in Liberia with SIM, the aid group that has been at the forefront of the fight against Ebola in West Africa. He was reportedly delivering babies in the SIM hospital's obstetrics unit in Liberia and not treating Ebola patients. He also headed up a residency program there.

    How he came down with the disease is still a mystery.

    SIM president Bruce Johnson said that Sacra returned to Liberia about a month ago, after SIM Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol became ill with Ebola. Both survived after treatment at Emory University in Atlanta. Brantly and Writebol both learned that Sacra had been infected on Tuesday.

    "My heart sank. I just didn't have any other words but 'oh, no,'" Writebol told NBC News. "They are part of the family. To hear the news is very sad, (knowing) the whole cycle of the progression of the disease and how that story might end."

    Sacra is currently in isolation in Liberia. Johnson said it isn't clear yet if Sacra will return to the U.S. for treatment, as the other two Americans did. He is said to be in good spirits and is able to email.

    His brother, Doug Sacra, said the family is "desperately praying for his recovery." Rick Sacra has a wife and three children.

    "We're obviously sad," Doug Sacra said. "He figured out he had it and went straight to the isolation ward and they are giving him IV treatments and doing everything they can for him right away."

    Doug Sacra said his brother went to Liberia because he wanted to make sure the Ebola patients were receiving the necessary treatments, and that others in the area had medical attention.

    "Rick has a real heart for the people in Liberia, and he said, 'You know, I'm a doctor. No hospital is open. I'm going to go reopen the hospital so kids with Malaria and women needing emergency C-sections can get care.' And that's why he went."

    He is a 1989 graduate of UMass Medical School, which issued the following statement on Wednesday:

    "Our thoughts are with Dr. Rick Sacra today, as we learn that he has reportedly contracted the Ebola virus while working overseas in Liberia. Dr. Sacra is a 1989 graduate of UMass Medical School and on the medical staff of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at UMass Memorial Medical Center since 2010. Though he has spent much of his career working overseas, including nearly two decades in Liberia, he has a voluntary faculty appointment as an assistant professor of family medicine and community health at UMass Medical School, as a consequence of teaching in the medical school’s residency program when he returns to the US for periodic respite visits."

    The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that Ebola's death toll in West Africa has shot up to 1,900 - 400 more than the previous count. The virus is spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids, not through casual contact.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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