Samaritan's Purse and Serving In Missions USA announced Tuesday that both groups are evacuating following an upsurge in the number of Ebola cases in Liberia. Both groups say the logistics of the evacuation are being worked out. The aid workers are being pulled out of Liberia following the infection of two health care workers, a doctor from Samaritans Purse, and a Charlotte woman, stricken with the Ebola virus. Boone-based Samaritans Purse announced the move Wednesday, releasing a statement saying, "Because of instability and ongoing security issues in the area, Samaritan's Purse is making arrangements for nonessential personnel to leave the country."
Earlier this week, Samaritan's Purse confirmed that Dr. Kent Brantly, medical director of Samaritan's Purse Ebola Consolidated Management Center in Monrovia had contracted Ebola. Then Nancy Writebol, a missionary from Charlotte working for Serving in Missions, allied with Samaritan's Purse in the Liberian capital was found infected by the disease. The World Health Organization said that Ebola is typically acquired when a person comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person or animal infected with the disease. It is speculated that the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which began in late February or early March, will be traced to infected bats. Both workers are being treated for the disease in Monrovia's ELWA Hospital, the medical facility in which they had been working. Yesterday, Brantly and Writebol "have shown a slight improvement in the past 24 hours," Samaritan's Purse said Wednesday, but they said, "Both remain in serious condition."
The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Liberia's Ministry of Health are investigating how the two U.S. citizens contracted the disease.
As of Wednesday, about 60 percent of those infected during this current outbreaknearly 700 peoplehave died from the disease. The WHO reports that it is not uncommon for death rates nearing 90 percent of those who contract the virus.
- Written by Steve Frank