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Two U.S. Citizens Get Ebola as Liberia shuts borders

By Staff Reporter

Photographer: Zoom Dosso/AFP via Getty Images

Staff of the North Carolina-based charity Samaritan’s Purse puts on protective gear at…

Two U.S. citizens are being treated for Ebola in Liberia and the country shut some border crossings, as the worst outbreak of the disease on record spread to Nigeria,Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

Kent Brantly, the medical director of the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola center in the Liberian capital Monrovia, is in isolation and receiving treatment, the Boone, North Carolina-based charity said in a statementon its website yesterday. Nancy Writebol, who was helping the team treating patients at the center, has also tested positive for Ebola, the group said.

Ebola, which has no known cure or treatment and leads to death in as many as 90 percent of those who get it, has killed more than 660 people in four West African nations since March, the worst outbreak since the virus was first reported in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Nigeria reported its first case last week after an infected Liberian man landed in Lagos, Africa’s largest city.

“He could have gone anywhere” on a flight, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading in the U.K. “As this epidemic goes on, this sort of thing is eventually probably going to happen.”

Still, the chances of the virus spreading by air travel outside of Africa is small, Neuman said.

“If you look at the numbers, there are probably about 300 people who are currently infected with Ebola virus, and most of those would be too ill to sit up or walk,” Neuman said by phone today. “So the odds are small, but it is something that needs to be watched.”