Nancy Writebol. Photo by Reuters
Appearing healthy, a US missionary infected with Ebola
while working in Liberia shared publicly her battle with the
deadly virus for the first time, as the Christian organisation
she worked with detailed its newest case.
Dr. Rick Sacra, a 51-year-old Boston physician, is the latest
missionary worker for SIM USA to be infected with Ebola and
is receiving care in Liberia, according to the organisation.
Sacra volunteered to return to Liberia, where he had
previously delivered medical care, after two other U.S.
missionary workers became ill with the virus, Bruce Johnson,
president of SIM USA, told reporters on Wednesday (local
One of them was Nancy Writebol, 59, of Charlotte, who was
released last month from an Atlanta hospital that also
treated another missionary who contracted the often lethal
Speaking at times through tears about her recovery, Writebol
told reporters there were mornings when she woke up and
thought with surprise, "I'm alive."
Still, "there were many times when I thought, 'I don't think
I am going to make it any more," she said. "There were some
very, very dark days."
Sacra had been delivering babies and working with patients
who were not known to have the deadly virus, SIM USA said. It
said it had not yet determined how he contracted the disease.
The doctor had been following protocols for containment of
the disease, the organization said, and he is receiving care
within an isolated Ebola unit on its campus in Monrovia.
Global health officials have warned that the most severe
Ebola outbreak in history appears to be worsening.
The outbreak has infected more than 3,000 people and killed
some 1,550 since it was first detected early this year in
West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
For Writebol, recovery involved a dramatic medical journey as
well as scrutiny over treatment options.
After contracting the disease in Liberia in July, she was
flown back to the United States to receive care in an
isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
She was one of a few patients to receive an experimental
treatment, ZMapp, although doctors at Emory said they could
not determine whether it made a difference in her recovery.
A mother of two, Writebol has been recuperating with her
husband, fellow missionary David Writebol, who was also in
Liberia but developed no symptoms.
She was treated at Emory with another U.S. missionary, Kent
Brantly, a Texas doctor who also received ZMapp and was
released last month.
Brantly, who worked with another missionary group called
Samaritan's Purse, this week said he felt like he was going
to die during the throes of the illness.
"I don't think there is anything special about me that made
God save my life," he told NBC News in an interview, which
aired on Tuesday. "I survived. That is not to say that for
everybody else who died God was absent."