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Nigerian Doctor Tests Positive For Ebola In Lagos

The deadly virus was brought to the country two weeks ago by a Liberian traveler. Health officials say three more people may yet test positive.

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Health workers, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, prepare for work at an Ebola isolation unit in Liberia. Handout / Reuters

Updated — August 4, 1:08 p.m. ET

NAIROBI — A Nigerian doctor who treated an Ebola victim in Lagos has tested positive for the deadly virus, the Associated Press reported.

Just under two weeks ago, the doctor treated Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian government employee who had traveled to Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, for a regional conference. Sawyer, who also held American citizenship, collapsed at the airport shortly after arrival. He developed one of Ebola’s telltale symptoms — bleeding — at the hospital and died a few days later.

Ebola is a rapidly moving virus with symptoms that include fever, weakness, and internal and external bleeding, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The global health body says it is transmitted through contact with an infected patient’s bodily fluids, or exposure to environments where those fluids have been.

The Centers for Disease Control, which has been monitoring the three-country outbreak, yesterday counted 1,440 suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola, with 826 deaths.

The WHO said on Monday that it has received reports of 163 new cases, and 61 deaths, in the last five days, since July 31.

Moments ago the WHO put the total number of cases at 1,683, and the number of deaths at 887. That’s a fatality rate of 52%.

The WHO’s numbers include four total cases in Nigeria, one of which was reported in the last five days — although the WHO has not yet confirmed any cases in Nigeria, including Sawyer’s.

The outbreak began in March in Guinea and has since spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The three countries share porous land borders, where residents cross back and forth with frequency and informality — population movements that can contribute to spreading the virus.

Nigerian authorities have hoped to contain the disease by watching health care professionals and others who came into contact with Sawyer to see if they developed a fever, a first indicator that Ebola may be present.

The country put up to 70 people under surveillance. Three other health care workers who also came into contact with Sawyer have been tested for Ebola as well, but the results of those cases are pending, the AP reported.

It was unclear whether the health minister’s report of a positive diagnosis had also been confirmed by another laboratory. When Sawyer tested positive, the WHO waited for confirmation of the test results in its laboratory in Dakar, Senegal.


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