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Third American Healthcare Worker Contracts Ebola

Update Date: Sep 03, 2014 05:32 PM EDT

Another US healthcare worker in Liberia has contracted the deadly Ebola virus, making it the third case of infection during the current outbreak.

According to Reuters, 51-year old Dr. Rick Sacra, a missionary worker, contracted the virus when working in the obstetrics unit of the ELWA hospital in Liberian capital Monrovia. News of Sacra's infection came as surprise as he was not working with Ebola patients but was delivering babies, working with women who were not known to be infected. Following his diagnosis, Sacra has isolated himself in the hospital's Ebola ward where he has been receiving care.

"My heart was deeply saddened, but my faith was not shaken, when I learned another of our missionary doctors contracted Ebola," Bruce Johnson president of SIM missionary which sent Sacra to Liberia said, according to ABC News.

Fox News reported that doctors like Sacra who are not working in the Ebola unit would often find it difficult to work in protective gear owing to the sweltering 100-degree temperatures in Liberia. The present outbreak has claimed 1,550 lives including those of 240 health workers, WHO numbers show.

Dr. Jeff Deal, a doctor who had volunteered to help at the hospital said he was shocked by the news.

"At first I thought should I isolate myself, but now I have been a little comforted that I have been wearing protective clothing at all times," Deal told Fox News. He also said doctors following protocol have not been infected.  

News of Sacra's infection does not auger well for the community of healthcare experts caring for non-Ebola patients.

"I worry that this latest case, an American doctor contracting Ebola while caring for a maternity patient, will lead overseas groups that are providing non-Ebola support to question whether they can safely do so,"  ABC News quoted its chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. 

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