By Dennis Thompson
FRIDAY, Nov. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A doctor from Sierra Leone who lives in the United States and became infected with Ebola in his native country will be flown Saturday to a specialized hospital in Nebraska for treatment, according to published reports.
Dr. Martin Salia is to be transported to Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He is a general surgeon who had been working at a hospital in Sierra Leone's capital city of Freetown, the Associated Press reported.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are the three West African countries that have been ravaged by the Ebola outbreak that began last spring and is the worst in history.
Nebraska Medical Center is one of four U.S. hospitals with biocontainment units that include advanced features designed to handle dangerous pathogens like the Ebola virus.
Their special isolation units include layer upon layer of safety measures to prevent the spread of lethal pathogens, not just Ebola. The units include special air filters, dunk tanks full of antiseptic, dedicated lab equipment and so-called autoclaves to sterilize any medical waste before it is transported from a unit.
Salia, 44, lives in Maryland with his wife and is a permanent U.S. resident, the AP reported.
Salia will be the third Ebola patient treated at the Nebraska hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the United States. All but one have recovered after treatment. The only patient who didn't recover was Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who became infected with the disease in his homeland before traveling to Dallas in late September to visit family. He died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The most recent U.S. patient to be treated for Ebola, Dr. Craig Spencer, was released from a New York City hospital on Tuesday. Spencer, 33, contracted the often-fatal illness while caring for Ebola patients in Guinea.
The disease has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
On Thursday, health officials reported that trials of therapies that might prove effective against Ebola will begin in December in West Africa.
The therapies will include two antiviral drugs -- one from the United States and one from Japan. They have been approved for certain uses -- the Japanese drug is given to treat influenza, for instance -- but they haven't been tested as therapies for Ebola.
The researchers hope to have trial results back by February 2015. The World Health Organization and the humanitarian medical group Doctors Without Borders will be involved with some of the trials.
Also Thursday, the president of Liberia said she was ending a state of emergency put in place to control the Ebola outbreak. But, she added, the move does not mean the outbreak is over.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said there's been enough progress to allow the lifting of emergency measures, which included banning large public gatherings, shutting some markets and allowing the government to restrict people's movements. Schools remain closed, however, the AP reported.
Sirleaf said there have been fewer Ebola cases in the capital city of Monrovia, although there have been some new outbreaks that include an area near the border with Sierra Leone.