(Adds details from Nebraska press conference)
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO, Sept 5 The third U.S. medical
missionary to become infected with the Ebola virus was wheeled
on a gurney into the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for
treatment after being flown there from West Africa, a
spokeswoman for the medical center said on Friday.
Dr. Rick Sacra, a 51-year-old Boston physician, contracted
Ebola while working at a hospital in Liberia on behalf of the
North Carolina-based Christian group SIM USA. Sacra had worked
in the obstetrics ward at the ELWA Hospital of SIM in Monrovia.
Sacra's plane landed at the Offutt Air Force Base and he was
transported to the medical center in an ambulance escorted by
state highway patrol, said Jenny Nowatzke, media relations
coordinator with the medical center.
"The transfer went very, very smoothly," Dr. Mark Rupp, an
infectious disease specialist at the hospital, told a news
conference on Friday. "Our patient is sick but stable."
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola
outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 2,000 people and
infected more than 4,000 since the outbreak began in Guinea in
The virus kills about half of those who contract it. In the
Nebraska facility, Sacra will have the advantage supportive
treatments, such as IV fluids, that may help him fight off the
He is being cared for in the hospital's Biocontainment
Patient Care Unit, a special isolation unit at the hospital that
was designed to treat patients with highly infectious diseases.
The facility is similar to the one at Emory University in
Atlanta where two other SIM USA missionaries, Nancy Writebol and
Dr. Kent Brantly, were treated and recovered.
Writebol and Brantly were given an experimental treatment
made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical called ZMapp, but no more doses
of that treatment are available, and doctors have said it is not
clear whether it helped their recovery.
Rupp said the hospital would offer "aggressive supportive
care," and it is considering other experimental therapies,
including offering Sacra "passive immunity" in which antibodies
derived from the blood of patients who have survived Ebola are
infused into a patient.
WHO experts backed this treatment approach on
Other possibilities include experimental drugs in
development by Vancouver-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp and
privately held Profectus BioSciences of Tarrytown, New York.
During the news conference, Bruce Johnson, president of SIM
USA, tearfully recalled an email he received from Sacra on
Monday in which the doctor apologized for contracting Ebola and
said he did not want this "to detract or disrupt any of the care
of the patients" at the group's hospital in Monrovia.
Johnson said the group had paid the cost of evacuating Sacra
and that the cost of his care would be covered by the group's
(Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago)