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Liberia finds missing Ebola patients

Aug 19, 2014, 7:50 AM EDT
A sign warning of the dangers of Ebola outside a government hospital in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, one of the West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
AFP/Getty Images

Seventeen suspected Ebola patients who went missing in Liberia after a health centre in the capital was attacked have been found, a minister has said. The BBC reports:

"They were traced and finally they turned themselves in" at a treatment centre, Lewis Brown, an information minister, told the BBC. The government had previously denied they were missing.

New U.N. figures show that 1,229 people have now died since the beginning of this year in the outbreak that has also hit Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.

The Liberian information minister said the missing patients were now at the newly expanded treatment unit opened over the weekend at the John F Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in the capital, Monrovia.

Mr Brown also said the health of three Liberian doctors infected with Ebola had improved after they receiving the experimental drug Zmapp. Two US missionaries, who were flown home for treatment from Liberia, are reportedly recovering from the virus after taking doses of the same medicine.

Meanwhile, the husband of an American missionary under treatment for Ebola at Emory University Hospital said Monday his wife is gaining strength. The Wall Street Journal writes:

American missionary David Writebol said that he had been released on Sunday from quarantine in Charlotte, North Carolina, and traveled the same day to Atlanta to visit his wife, Nancy Writebol, who is in a special isolation unit at Emory.

"I have had the great joy to be able to look through the isolation room glass and see my beautiful wife again," he said in a statement provided by SIM USA, the organization the Writebols were working for in Liberia. "She was standing with her radiant smile, happy beyond words. She is continuing to slowly gain strength, eager for the day when the barriers separating us are set aside and we can simply hold each other."

Ms. Writebol, 59, became infected with Ebola when she was working on a crew that decontaminated health staff emerging from an Ebola treatment center operated by SIM USA and a partner organization, Samaritan's Purse, outside Monrovia.

She was diagnosed three weeks ago and treated in Liberia until she was evacuated to Emory nearly two weeks ago. Mr. Writebol was quarantined after arriving in Charlotte a week ago, because he had been exposed to his infected wife. He said he was released Sunday after completing a 21-day period of monitoring for symptoms that began while he was in Liberia.

While under treatment in Liberia, Ms. Writebol and an American doctor infected with Ebola, Kent Brantly, received an experimental drug, called ZMapp, that is made by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. and had never been tested in humans.

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