An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.
Dr. Kent Brantly was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. Brantly, 33, is the medical director for the North Carolina-based group Samaritan's Purse. He had been working with the group in Liberia since October as part of the charity's post-residency program for doctors, said Melissa Strickland, a spokeswoman for the group.
"We are hopeful, but he is certainly not out of the woods yet," she said.
Early treatment improves a patient's chances of survival and Strickland said Brantly recognized his own symptoms and began receiving care immediately.
The highly contagious virus is one of the most deadly diseases in the world. The World Health Organization said the outbreak is the largest ever recorded, killing more than 670 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone since it began earlier this year.
Health workers are at serious risk of contracting the disease, which spreads through contact with bodily fluids.
One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors died of Ebola, a government official said Sunday. Dr. Samuel Brisbane is the first Liberian doctor to die in the outbreak. A Ugandan doctor working in the country died earlier this month.
Photos of Brantly working in Liberia show him in white coveralls made of a synthetic material that he wore for hours a day while treating Ebola patients.
There is no known cure for Ebola, which begins with symptoms including fever and sore throat and escalates to vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding.
The WHO says the disease is not contagious until a person begins to show symptoms. Brantly's wife and children had been living with him in Liberia but flew home to the U.S. about a week ago, before the doctor started showing any signs of illness, Strickland said.
"They have absolutely shown no symptoms," she said.
A woman who identified herself as Brantly's mother said the family was declining immediate comment when reached by phone in Indiana late Saturday.
Brantly is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and went to Liberia as part of a two-year fellowship with Samaritan's Purse, shortly after he completed his residency in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
"The caliber of a person like that who says, 'I'm going Africa, I'm going to where people need me the most,' it really speaks to you," Robert Earley, president and CEO of JPS Health Network, said Sunday. "It speaks to your heart."