2 American Health Workers Contract Deadly Ebola Virus in West Africa

Dr. Kent Brantly, left, and Nancy Writebol, two American health care workers in Africa, have contracted the Ebola virus. (CBS News)
Dr. Kent Brantly, left, and Nancy Writebol, two American health care workers in Africa, have contracted the Ebola virus. (CBS News)

An American doctor and another U.S. aid worker helping to combat an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa are now infected with disease.

The first American reported to have contracted the disease is Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, from Fort Worth, Texas, the North Carolina-based charity Samaritan’s Purse said.

Brantly, the medical director for the relief group’s Ebola care center on the outskirts of the Liberian capital of Monrovia, was stable but in very serious condition, said Ken Isaacs, a vice president of Samaritan’s Purse.

The second American to contract the disease was identified as Nancy Writebol of Charlotte, N.C. Isaacs said she was a worker with an allied aid group SIM, or Serving in Mission, which runs the hospital where Samaritan’s Purse has an Ebola care center on the grounds. He said she was in stable and serious condition.

“She is showing full symptoms of the disease,” Isaacs said.

He said that Writebol had been working as a hygienist who decontaminated those entering and leaving the Ebola care area at the hospital.

Writebol and her husband, David, who is also employed by SIM, have been working in Monrovia since last August, CBS affiliate WBTV in Charlotte reported. The Writebols have two children.

David Writebol broke the news of his wife’s illness to members of their church in North Carolina via Skype.

“It’s just devastating news,” the Rev. John Munro, Calvary Church’s senior pastor, told the Charlotte Observer.

“He’s devastated,” Munro said of David Writebol. “He can’t really be with his wife. She’s in isolation. Ebola is very contagious. … She’s not doing well. It’s grim news.”

Brantly, originally from Indianapolis, has been working with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia since October 2013 as part of the charity’s post-residency program for doctors, said the group’s spokeswoman Melissa Strickland. The organization’s website says he had worked as a family practice physician in Fort Worth, Texas.

Strickland said Brantly’s wife and children had been living with him in Africa, but they are currently in the U.S.

In Fort Worth, the marquee at the Southside Church of Christ read “Pray for Kent.” The doctor and his family are members of the church, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said.

Strickland said Brantly has been talking to his medical team and working on his computer since entering treatment.

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