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Ebola kills 2 Americans, Freetown resident

FREETOWN, Liberia--Alarm soared in West Africa Monday over the deadliest Ebola virus outbreak yet, with an American doctor and a missionary contracting the disease in Liberia and the death of the first victim from Sierra Leone's capital Freetown.

Samaritan's Purse, a Christian charity, said that its physician Kent Brantly was in stable condition and had been isolated at the group's Ebola treatment center at the ELWA hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia.

His symptoms included intermittent fever and body aches.

Nancy Writebol, a missionary with the SIM Christian charity that runs the hospital, was also in stable condition as of Sunday morning, according to Samaritan's Purse.

“They're both receiving intensive early treatment, but certainly it's a dangerous situation and a frightening situation,” spokeswoman Melissa Strickland told AFP.

Early treatment is one key to recovery from the potentially deadly disease, she added.

“We remain optimistic for his recovery, but certainly he is not out of the woods,” Strickland had said of Dr Brantly earlier.

“Samaritan's Purse is committed to doing everything possible to help Dr Brantly during this time of crisis. We ask everyone to please pray for him and his family,” it added.

Writebol had been working as a hygienist responsible for detoxifying protective suits worn by those entering and exiting an Ebola isolation center.

She has a husband and two children, Samaritan's Purse said, adding that Brantly, 33, was also married with two children.

Brantly is the medical director of the Samaritan's Purse Ebola case management center in Liberia, where the agency continues to work with Liberian and international health officials to contain the outbreak.

He began work with the group's Liberia team in October and had focused on Ebola patients since June.

The U.S. State Department said it was aware of an Ebola case but could not provide information about a private individual.

An Ebola epidemic has killed at least 660 people in four West African countries since the start of the year, according to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO).

On Saturday, a woman suffering from the first confirmed case of Ebola in Sierra Leone's capital died after her parents forcibly took her from hospital, the health ministry in Freetown said.

Saudatu Koroma, a 32-year-old trainee hairdresser, was admitted to a clinic on July 23 and tested positive for the disease, which has already killed more than 200 people in the west African country.

“Her father and mother forcefully took her away from the hospital” two days later, health ministry spokesperson Sidi Yahya Tunis told AFP.

Koroma's disappearance prompted Freetown authorities to broadcast a nationwide radio and television campaign, which eventually persuaded her to return for treatment, Tunis said.

Koroma died on Saturday while on her way to an Ebola treatment centre in the country's east.

“She was severely dehydrated and weak and could hardly speak,” Tunis said. “Blood samples taken from both the father and mother are now being tested.”

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