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American woman with Ebola heads to US hospital

A second American who contracted Ebola while caring for patients in West Africa was on her way to a US hospital for treatment on Tuesday (Aug 5).

WASHINGTON: A second American who contracted Ebola while caring for patients in West Africa was on her way to a US hospital for treatment on Tuesday (Aug 5).

A medical evacuation plane carrying Christian missionary Nancy Writebol left Liberia for Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia and stopped early in the day to refuel in Maine, CNN reported. Writebol is headed to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the same facility where American doctor Kent Brantly is being treated. He was also sickened with the dangerous virus while taking care of patients in the Liberian capital.

Brantly's arrival on Saturday marked the first time a patient with Ebola landed for treatment in the United States. The two Americans are among more than 1,600 people infected with the hemorrhagic fever in West Africa since March, marking the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.

A total of 887 people have died of the virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, a 55 per cent fatality rate, according to the World Health Organisation.

Writebol is headed to a special isolation unit that was set up at Emory University Hospital in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is no treatment or vaccine for Ebola, but both US patients have received an experimental serum.

However, the president of SIM USA, the group Writebol works for, said it was having less of an effect on the 60-year-old. "She's in a more weakened condition" than Brantly, 33, who was seen stepping off the back of the ambulance when he arrived, Bruce Johnson told CNN on Monday. Still, he expressed hope that bringing the two to the United States and treating them here would help advance research into Ebola to address the crisis in countries like Liberia.

Meanwhile, doctors in New York were running tests on a patient who was hospitalised with high fever symptoms similar to those of Ebola, which include vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and sometime bleeding. The man had recently travelled to West Africa.

"Odds are this is not Ebola. It's much more likely it's a much more common condition," said Mount Sinai Hospital president David Reich, noting that testing and confirmation with the CDC in Atlanta would take 48 to 72 hours. He said the patient was promptly isolated and placed in a strict isolation facility.

The World Bank, meanwhile, has pledged up to US$200 million to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help those nations contain the outbreak. Ebola is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk. Experts say it is not transmissible by air.