OMAHA, Neb. (WJZ) –It is the second US Ebola death. Maryland Dr. Martin Salia died from advanced stages of Ebola early Monday morning in Nebraska. Doctors say they used every treatment available but the virus had progressed too far to save Salia.
Marcus Washington has the story.
Doctors say this is an example of how deadly the Ebola virus is and that, even in one of the best treatment facilities in the world to deal with this disease, the virus can often be too strong to fight.
As a surgeon, his mission was to help save lives, but it was Dr. Martin Salia that needed the held after being diagnosed with Ebola while in Sierra Leone.
WJZ spoke with his worried family who lives here in Maryland. They knew the risk when he recently returned to Africa.
“The fact that he left here and go back to his country made me worry a little bit, especially when he’s a doctor and he treats patients. That’s the part that is scary, because you don’t know who has the virus,” said his son.
WJZ has learned Salia was first tested for Ebola in West Africa on November 7 but the first test came back negative. After the symptoms of the virus continued, he took another test, which revealed he was infected with Ebola. Five days later, he arrived at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, critically ill.
“He had no kidney function; he was working extremely hard to breathe and he was unresponsive,” said Dr. Daniel Johnson, Nebraska Medical Center.
Monday afternoon, doctors described how they used the drug Zmapp and performed a plasma transfusion from an Ebola survivor. While both have helped other Ebola patients, Dr. Salia was simply too weak to survive.
“We really gave it everything we could. All modern medical therapies were provided and we wish we could have had a different outcome but I am also proud of the team and what they were able to try,”Johnson said.
Dr. Salia’s first Ebola test came back negative. Doctors say it typically takes up to seven days before the virus is detected in an infected person’s blood and could take up to 10 days of having the virus before you get a positive reading.
“I can’t comment on the quality of the test but I can say it’s not unusual,” said Dr. Phil Smith.
Doctor’s say it’s too hazardous to perform an autopsy for fear the disease could still spread.
“Public health generally mandates cremation and after discussion with public health, in this case, that will be what happens,” said an official.
Dr. Salia’s family and friends feared the worst when he returned to his homeland but they prayed he’d be safe.
Dr. Salia was a doctor at a hospital in Sierra Leone, one of the hardest hit areas with Ebola but it’s still not clear how he contracted the virus, since he didn’t work in an Ebola care hospital.
Samples of his blood will be sent to the CDC in Atlanta, where doctors will be able to determine how much of the virus is in his blood.
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