In Brief

Lead Ebola Doc in Sierra Leone Contracts Virus

The Ebola virus
The Ebola virus (Image credit: CDC/ Frederick Murphy)

The doctor leading the response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has been infected with the highly lethal virus, according to news reports.

The doctor, Sheik Umar Khan, has treated more than 100 Ebola patients, and was said to be meticulous in his precautions to avoid contracting the virus, according to Reuters. But late Tuesday, the office of the president of Sierra Leone said that Khan has tested positive for Ebola, and is being treated at a ward run by Doctors Without Borders.

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history, and has sickened more than 1,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, including 632 who have died, according to the World Health Organization.

In previous Ebola outbreaks, the mortality rate has been as high as 90 percent, though the rate in the current outbreak is about 60 percent. There is currently no cure for Ebola, only general therapies meant to support the ill patient.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.