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Ebola Virus Infection FAQ

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Editor's note: This story was updated on Nov. 17, 2014, with the death of Martin Salia, a doctor brought to the U.S. from Sierra Leone for treatment.

Perhaps no virus strikes as much fear in people as Ebola, the cause of a deadly outbreak in West Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports more than 14,400 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola, mostly in the countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, as of Nov. 11. More than 5,100 people have died in the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded.

Four confirmed or probable cases have been reported in Mali, along with three deaths, the WHO said.

A surgeon from Sierra Leone who lives in the United States died after being flown to the Nabraska Medical Center for treatment, the hospital said Nov. 17.

Martin Salia, who was reportedly working at a hospital in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown, arrived in the U.S. Nov. 15 and was taken to the medical center.

He was in extremely critical condition, suffering from kidney and respiratory failure, when he arrived, the hospital said.“We used every possible treatment available to give Dr. Salia every possible opportunity for survival,” said Phil Smith, MD, medical director of the hospital’s biocontainment unit. That included giving him the experimental treatment ZMapp, also given to other Ebola patients, according to the hospital.

But Salia’s disease was “extremely advanced,” Smith said in a statement.

Salia was reportedly a permanent U.S. resident who lived in Maryland with his family. 

Two other Americans – Rick Sacra, MD, and Ashoka Mukpo – recovered from Ebola after being treated in the Omaha isolation unit.

A Doctors Without Borders physician who returned to the U.S. after treating Ebola patients in Guinea was the latest person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with Ebola. Craig Spencer, MD, recovered after getting treatment at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. He was released on Nov. 11.

Spencer, who returned to New York on Oct. 17, was taken to the hospital 6 days later after reporting a fever and vomiting.

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