Tags: sheik umar khan | ebola | doctor

Sheik Umar Khan, Sierra Leone's Top Ebola Doc, Catches the Disease

Image: Sheik Umar Khan, Sierra Leone's Top Ebola Doc, Catches the Disease
(Reuters /Landov, File)

By    |   Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 09:36 AM

Sheik Umar Khan, a 39-year-old virologist from Sierra Leone who's been treating victims of the country's Ebola outbreak, has himself caught the disease.

Reuters reported that Ebola has killed 632 people across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone since an outbreak began in February. Khan was Sierra Leone's lead doctor fighting the outbreak, and had treated more than 100 patients himself. After contracting the virus, he was transferred to a facility run by the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

"I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life . . . Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for somebody who is sickened by disease," he told reporters. "Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk."

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Khan is one of roughly 100 health workers who have contracted the disease across the region. Fifty of those 100 have died. Just this past week, three nurses who worked alongside Khan died from it. Colleagues said Khan was always meticulous about wearing the proper protection, including overalls, mask, gloves, and special footwear.

The office of the president and the Health Ministry released a statement about Khan's transfer to a medical facility, and called him a "national hero."

The wave of Ebola deaths has caused outrage among many citizens, many of whom say the governments of the affected countries aren't doing enough.

Monrovia resident Edward Deline set fire to part of Liberia's Health Ministry on Wednesday after his 14-year-old brother died of the disease.

"The health [workers] here are not doing enough to fight this virus. They are taking this to be a money making thing while our people are dying," he said upon his arrest.

According to The Washington Post, Sierra Leone itself has suffered 206 Ebola-related deaths. Many who don't survive the disease are buried in makeshift graves near the treatment facility. Many die at home.

The World Health Organization estimates that 90 percent of people who contract the Ebola virus disease die from it. There is no known cure or vaccine, but early treatment can improve chances of survival. The virus often incubates for 21 days before symptoms like fever, rashes, vomiting, and bleeding begin to occur.

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Sheik Umar Khan, a 39-year-old virologist from Sierra Leone who's been treating victims of the country's Ebola outbreak, has himself caught the disease.
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Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 09:36 AM
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