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Sierra Leone Doctor Dies of Ebola at Nebraska Hospital

Second virus-related death in U.S.

An Ebola-infected patient treated at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Dr. Martin Salia, has died as a result of his disease. It was the second death from the virus out of 10 known cases treated in the U.S.

“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share this news,” said Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medical Center. “Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to save him.”

Salia, 44, was chief medical officer at United Methodist Kissy Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, when he tested positive last week for Ebola, according to the United Methodist Church’s news service. The news service said it was unclear how or where Salia contracted the virus. He worked at several other medical facilities in addition to Kissy Hospital.

His evacuation was at the request of his wife, an American who lives in Maryland and who has agreed to reimburse the U.S. government for any expense, the State Department said.

Salia had advanced symptoms of Ebola –– including kidney and respiratory failure –– when he arrived at the Nebraska hospital on Saturday, November 15. He was placed on dialysis, a ventilator, and multiple medications to support his organ systems in an effort to help his body fight the disease. He also received a dose of convalescent plasma, and ZMapp therapy was initiated on Saturday.

ZMapp consists of three humanized monoclonal antibodies manufactured in plants, specifically Nicotiana. It is an investigational “cocktail” combining components of MB-003 (Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc.) and ZMAb (Defyrus, Inc./Public Health Agency of Canada). ZMapp was first identified as a drug candidate in January 2014.

“We used every possible treatment available to give Dr. Salia every possible opportunity for survival,” Smith said. “As we have learned, early treatment with these patients is essential. In Dr. Salia’s case, his disease was already extremely advanced by the time he came here for treatment.”

Sources: Nebraska Medicine; November 17, 2014; Reuters; November 17, 2014; and ZMapp Information Sheet; 2014.

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