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US Health Worker With Ebola Headed Home for Treatment


Medical workers transfer a female British health care worker from an aircraft into an ambulance at RAF Northolt, in west London, March 12, 2015.
Medical workers transfer a female British health care worker from an aircraft into an ambulance at RAF Northolt, in west London, March 12, 2015.

An American health worker infected with Ebola is heading back to the United States for treatment at the National Institutes of Health.

The agency said the patient, who had volunteered to treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, is expected to arrive at the NIH facility in Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday. The worker will stay in a secure treatment center, one of a handful of units in the U.S. designed to treat the most dangerous pathogens.

NIH officials have not released any information about the identity of the patient.

Earlier, a female British military health worker in Sierra Leone who tested positive for Ebola was flown home for treatment, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday.

A Royal Air Force plane was sent to the west African country Wednesday. The woman will be treated at London's Royal Free Hospital, a military spokeswoman said.

The condition of the patient is unknown.

β€œAn investigation into how the military worker was exposed to the virus is currently underway and tracing of individuals in recent contact with the diagnosed worker is being undertaken,” Public Health England said in a statement Wednesday.

The military health care worker is the third Briton to contract the virus in Sierra Leone - two nurses, William Pooley and Pauline Cafferkey, recovered after being treated in Britain.

Britain, a former colonizer of Sierra Leone, has sent nearly 800 soldiers to help organize a campaign to control the epidemic in Sierra Leone and to build treatment centers. In addition, hundreds of national health workers have volunteered to assist in the country.

The military spokeswoman said, "Despite there being stringent procedures and controls in place to safeguard U.K. service personnel, there is always a level of risk in deployments on operations of this type."

Public Health England, a government agency, has said that the risk to the British public was "very low."

Cases rising in Sierra Leone

The Ebola outbreak, which began in December 2013, swept Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, killing more than 9,900 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Rates of new infections have come down swiftly in recent months, however, and Liberia last week released its last known Ebola patient from the hospital.

However, Sierra Leone remains the country with the highest rate of transmission and as of March 10 still had 127 patients in Ebola treatment centers across the country, according to a government health ministry report.

Alfred Palo Conteh, CEO of the National Ebola Response Center in Sierra Leone, said complacent behavior has led to a worrying spike in confirmed Ebola cases over the past week in four districts.

Conteh said new measures must now be put into place to contain the surges.

Sierra Leone's Ministry of Health and Sanitation reported 15 cases Wednesday, along with 16 on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Material for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

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