Updated 3:15 p.m. EDT | The Associated Press reports that missionary group Serving in Mission announced Tuesday that a third, unnamed American has been infected with the Ebola virus.
“The latest missionary to come down with the disease, a male obstetrician, was not immediately identified by the group Serving In Mission,” AP reports. “He did not work in an Ebola ward. The group did not specify how he contracted Ebola, but it can be spread through vaginal fluids.”
This new case follows when two Americans were flown back to the United States for treatment after contracting the deadly virus while working in Liberia. Both made a full recovery after receiving an experimental drug ZMapp.
The National Institutes of Health will begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine on an initial 20 adult humans this week, as the lethal virus’ reach “continues to accelerate” in West Africa.
After early testing in monkeys showed promising results, the NIH worked to develop the latest version of the vaccine with pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline for phase 1 of the clinical human trials this week in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, told the NewsHour on Friday how the fast-tracked trials would ensue:
“[T]his is the first time this vaccine has been put in humans. So safety is paramount, so you take a very small number of people, 20 in total, three at a time, and you use the vaccine to determine if there are untoward effects, any inflammation, any idiosyncratic or hypersensitivity reactions, pain or anything that might be a red flag about safety.”
To date, Ebola has claimed 1,552 lives out of 3,069 cases in the affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization reported Thursday. The organization added that the virus could infect more than 20,000 people before it’s properly contained.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said that the actual number of reported cases would be higher because there were not enough health workers to maintain records.
Following a three-country tour in West Africa, Frieden will hold a news conference at the CDC today to give his assessment of the situation. PBS NewsHour will live stream the briefing at 12 p.m. EDT.