Fort Worth doctor in Africa tests positive for Ebola virus

Courtesy WFAA

A Fort Worth doctor working with Ebola patients in Liberia has tested positive for the virus, according to Samaritan's Purse, an international relief agency.

Dr. Kent Brantly is medical director at the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. He was reported to be in stable condition on Sunday, talking with his doctors and working on his computer while receiving care.

The relief group says the 33-year-old physician with a private practice in Fort Worth is undergoing treatment in an isolation center at ELWA Hospitalin Monrovia, Liberia's capital city.

Samaritan's Purse says Brantly is married and has two children, and that the agency is committed to doing everything possible to assist him.

He has worked with the agency in Liberia since last October. Before that, he was a family practice doctor in Fort Worth, where he finished his residency at John Peter Smith Hospital.

There is no known cure for Ebola, which begins with symptoms including fever and sore throat but then escalates to vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding.

JPS Health Network president and CEO Robert Earley says the staff is taking this news hard.

"One: We're stunned. Two: It's painful. But this is the kind of individual that he is," Earley told News 8. "They go into the worst situations in the world and try to save lives."

Earley said Brantly is a phenomenal person for embarking on this humanitarian mission.

"This is a young man who has no idea who these people are; in a country that he did not grow up in; around people that he doesn't even know their names, doesn't speak the language... and yet he's there to help that population," Earley said.

Samaritan's Purse spokeswoman Melissa Strickland said Brantly began serving in Africa as part of a post-residency program before the current Ebola outbreak began.

The highly contagious virus is one of the most deadly diseases in the world. Photos of Brantly working in Liberia show him in white coveralls made of a synthetic material that he wore for hours a day while treating Ebola patients.

Brantly was quoted in a posting on the organization's website earlier this year about efforts to maintain an isolation ward for patients.

"The hospital is taking great effort to be prepared," Brantly said. "In past Ebola outbreaks, many of the casualties have been health care workers who contracted the disease through their work caring for infected individuals."

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

The deadly disease has already killed 672 in several countries since the outbreak began earlier this year.

Another medic in the region, Dr. Samuel Brisbane, became the first Liberian doctor to die in the Ebola outbreak, which has claimed 129 people in that West African nation. A Ugandan doctor working in the country died earlier this month.

Brisbane, who once served as a medical adviser to former Liberian President Charles Taylor, was working as a consultant with the internal medicine unit at the country's largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia.

After falling ill with Ebola, he was taken to a treatment center on the outskirts of the capital, where he died, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister.

Under the supervision of health workers, family members escorted the doctor's body to a burial location west of the city, Nyenswah said.

He added that another doctor who had been working in Liberia's central Bong County was also being treated for Ebola at the same center where Brisbane died.

The situation "is getting more and more scary," Nyenswah said.

News of Brisbane's death first began circulating on Saturday, a national holiday marking Liberia's independence in 1847.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf used her Independence Day address to discuss a new taskforce to combat Ebola. Information Minister Lewis Brown said the taskforce would go "from community to community, from village to village, from town to town" in order to increase awareness.

Health workers are at serious risk of contracting the disease, which spreads through contact with bodily fluids.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment