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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- An American medical missionary being treated at a Nebraska medical center for an Ebola infection is showing signs of improvement, according to the hospital.
The patient, Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, of Massachusetts -- the third of four U.S. health-care workers infected by the deadly virus in West Africa -- arrived Friday at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He is undergoing treatment in the hospital's 10-bed isolation unit.
Doctors there are pleased with his progress, saying he's more alert and responsive, Dr. Phil Smith, director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit, said in a statement Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
The physicians "continue to be encouraged by what we're seeing up to this point," Smith said.
Meanwhile, the fourth American health-care worker who became infected with Ebola in West Africa continues his second day of treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The patient, who was airlifted in on Tuesday, has yet to be identified for privacy reasons.
The Atlanta hospital last month successfully treated two other U.S. medical aid workers who had contracted Ebola in Liberia. Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and Nancy Writebol, 59, were flown in from Liberia in August for aggressive treatment at Emory. Both recovered and are no longer contagious.
Although Emory released no further details about its new patient, the World Health Organization reported Tuesday that a doctor working in an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone had tested positive for the disease and was being evacuated, according to the AP.
In Nebraska, Sacra, who's a trained family physician from Massachusetts, is receiving an experimental drug that is different from the one that Brantly and Writebol received, according to news reports. Brantly and Writebol were treated with the novel medication ZMapp, but it's not clear if the drug was key to their recovery.
U.S. and WHO officials have warned that the Ebola virus is spreading faster than health workers in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone can work to contain it.
WHO estimates released Tuesday put the West Africa toll from Ebola at more than 2,200 deaths and 4,200 infections, primarily due to a surge of new cases in Liberia, the AP reported. WHO officials estimate that another 20,000 people could become infected with the virus, which has a mortality rate that can approach 90 percent.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Ebola is primarily being spread in West Africa in two ways: The first is among people caring for people with the disease, whether at home or in health-care settings and hospitals; the second is unsafe burial practices.
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SOURCES: Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Associated Press