Hoosier physician sees Ebola outbreak first hand

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The condition of an Indiana doctor who contracted the Ebola virus is deteriorating.

That’s according to a public radio program that talked to a vice-president of Samaritan’s Purse. That’s the international relief organization where Dr. Kent Brantly works. Dr. Brantly was infected with the disease while treating patients in Liberia.

In a video posted to Samaritan Purse’s Facebook page earlier this month, Dr. Brantly discusses the needs of those fighting the Ebola outbreak.

He is currently listed in stable condition there. But, CNN reports Samaritan’s Purse is trying to evacuate him for better care.

24-Hour News 8 spoke briefly with his family.

Jan Brantly said her son’s life passion has been working mission trips. She said their focus right now is having faith in God and prayers for Kent.

24-Hour News 8 also talked with two people who know first hand the conditions Dr. Brantly has been working in.

“The risk that’s undertaken by healthcare providers who provide care is serious,” said Chad Priest, Assistant Dean for Operations and Community Partnerships at the IU School of Nursing.

Chad Priest is talking about the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia, Liberia. In June, he and IU Methodist ER Physician Josh Mugele spent two and a half weeks at the JFK Medical Center in the West African country.

“Dr. Mugele and I were there to help build their emergency management program,” Priest said.

While in Liberia, they saw signs posted about the virus and people lining up to be screened.

“This is a 60 percent fatality rate of a disease that can be spread through sweat,” Priest said.

“It’s very scary because it has such a high mortality rate,” said Dr. Mugele.

Dr. Mugele and Priest know this first hand.

“Because it is such a deadly disease and is spread this way, health care workers are particularly at risk for it because they come in contact with these people as they are caring for them,” Dr. Mugele said.

While in Liberia they worked with a friend and fellow physician Doctor Sam Brisbane. Sadly, last week, Dr. Brisbane, the director of the Medical Center’s E-R Department died from the Ebola virus.

“Just this weekend I got a phone call from some friends there that he had contracted it; he died pretty quickly from it and he was buried on his farm yesterday,” Dr. Mugele said.

Priest said prayers and support are needed for these healthcare workers.

“They really are heroes and not just the Americans and the expats that go, but the physicians and nurses there that are working,” he said.

Experts say the risk of travelers getting Ebola is low. That’s because the disease spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat or even a sneeze, but it can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

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