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US to Evacuate at Least 1 American Ebola Victim from West Africa

A close-up of newspaper front pages focusing on the Ebola outbreak, including a newspaper, reading 'Burn all bodies' in Monrovia, Liberia, July 31, 2014.
A close-up of newspaper front pages focusing on the Ebola outbreak, including a newspaper, reading 'Burn all bodies' in Monrovia, Liberia, July 31, 2014.

An American aid worker who became sick with the Ebola virus in West Africa is returning to the United States within the next several days.

Hospital officials at Emory University confirmed the patient would be treated in a special isolation unit there, but declined to identify the person.

The university hospital in Atlanta, Georgia has one of only four such facilities in the United States, and has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, to set up the special unit.

Earlier Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the State Department was working with the CDC to facilitate options to bring home infected U.S. aid workers.

The State Department said if an evacuation is undertaken every precaution will be observed and the individual will be isolated both in route and once back in the U.S.

Watch related video report by Mary Alice Salinas:

West Africa Ebola Deaths Top 725, US Issues Travel Warningi
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August 01, 2014 11:16 AM
The World Health Organization says the number of Ebola deaths in four West African countries now tops 725. The United States is warning travelers to avoid any non-essential trips to hardest-hit countries, as health officials race to contain the virus. VOA's Mary Alice Salinas has the latest from Washington.


The United States has issued travel warnings for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the three countries hardest hit by the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

The overall death toll from the Ebola outbreak has climbed to 729, including more than 50 new fatalities reported since last Friday.

The latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO) came as officials in Sierra Leone and Liberia moved to enact intensive new measures to stop the Ebola virus from spreading.

Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma said the government will quarantine areas where the disease is found, restrict public meetings, search houses to find infected people and screen passengers at the country's main airport.  

In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced the closure of schools, the shutdown of markets along border areas, and said all public facilities would be disinfected and chlorinated on Friday.   

Guinea has the largest number of Ebola-related deaths at 339, followed by Sierra Leone at 233 and Liberia at 156.  Another man with U.S. and Liberian citizenship died in Nigeria last week soon after arriving on a flight that made stops in Ghana and Togo.

The WHO says Nigerian authorities have identified 59 people who may have come into contact with the man before he died.

In another development, the WHO said it is launching a $100 million response plan to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which it also called unprecedented.

WHO said the new measure will focus on finding ways to stop the virus' transmission in the affected countries and preventing Ebola from spreading to neighboring nations.

Doctors Without Borders is among the medical groups that have been trying to fight the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone.  The group's Anja Wolz said it lacks the manpower to fully address the problem.

"We only have the possibility to work in the case management centers and we don't have the capacity to go outside. The situation is quite difficult," she said. "I would say, we are on the top of an iceberg in the moment because the contact tracing is not really functioning.  This is one of the major issues what we have.  Because, to find the patient as soon as possible and to refer them to the case management center, it's the basic for an Ebola outbreak."

There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola, which can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.  The disease is characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, and unstoppable bleeding from areas such as the eyes, ears and nose.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.  Health officials are warning people not to touch Ebola patients and to avoid burial rituals that require handling the body of an Ebola fatality.

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