Third American with Ebola to be treated in Omaha

Sep 4, 2014

A Massachusetts doctor who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia is in Omaha for treatment.

Drs. Mark Rupp, Phil Smith, and Angela Hewlett speak Thursday at a news conference about a third American with Ebola being brought to Nebraska Medical Center for treatment.
Credit Katie Knapp Schubert / KIOS-FM

Dr. Rick Sacra arrived early Friday morning. He'll be treated at the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit. Sacra was working in the obstetrics unit of a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, when he contracted Ebola.

UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeff Gold says NMC was contacted 48 hours ago by the U.S. Department of Health about possibly receiving a patient with Ebola. The virus has killed more than 1,900 people in five west African nations.

Dr. Phil Smith, director of the NMC biocontainment unit, says Dr. Sacra will be treated with fluids, medication, and routine care. There are no doses of an experimental Ebola treatment, Zmapp, left to give to him. That's the medication that was given to Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, two other Americans who contracted the virus in west Africa.

The biocontainment unit's staff of 30 to 35 doctors has been activated. Five staff members at a time will care for Dr. Sacra.

Dr. Joseph Acierno, Nebraska's Chief Medical Officer, says the risk to the public is minimal. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, and not through air or water.

NMC's biocontainment unit opened in 2005. Dr. Smith says it was originally built because of a threat of SARS. He says the unit is equipped and prepared to treat a patient with Ebola.

Dr. Sacra was working with a medical missionary group, SIM, when he became infected.