US doctor contracts Ebola in Liberia

Dr. Kent Brantly (R) of Samaritan's Purse relief organization is shown in this undated handout photo provided by Samaritan's Purse, wearing personal protective equipment as he gives orders for medication to the Ebola patients through the doorway of the isolation unit at the case management center on the campus of ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.
PHOTO: US doctor contracts Ebola in Liberia

A 33-year-old American doctor working for a relief organisation in Liberia's capital has tested positive for the tropical disease Ebola, according to a statement from Samaritan's Purse.

Dr. Kent Brantly, medical director at one of the country's two treatment centers run by the organisation, recognised his own symptoms and confined himself to an isolation ward.

It was not immediately clear how he caught Ebola. The relief group's Melissa Strickland said that he had followed strict safety protocols when treating patients.

"It's too early to try to explain it. We will have an intensive and thorough investigation," she said.

Across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, at least 660 people have died from the illness, according to the World Health Organisation, as poor, ill-equipped African governments have struggled to cope with the virus.

Ebola kills up to 90 per cent of those who catch it, although the fatality rate of the current outbreak is lower at around 60 per cent. Highly contagious, patients suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea as well as internal and external bleeding.