A Massachusetts Doctor Has Contracted Ebola

Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, of Holden, was treating pregnant women and not Ebola patients.

Massachusetts doctor Rick Sacra, of Holden, has been identified as the third American to contract the Ebola virus in Liberia.

Sacra, a 51-year-old physician, works with SIM USA, a North Carolina-based missionary group, and was reportedly treating pregnant women and not Ebola patients. At this time, it is unclear how he contracted the virus.

NBC News is reporting that Sacra is in an isolation unit and said to be doing well.

“My heart was deeply saddened, but my faith was not shaken, when I learned another of our missionary doctors contracted Ebola,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA in a statement. “As a global mission, we are surrounding our missionary with prayer, as well as our Liberian SIM/ELWA colleagues, who continue fighting the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. We have gifted Liberian doctors, medical staff and support staff who are carrying on the fight.”

The Centers for Disease Control says on its website that “the 2014 Ebola outbreak is one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history and the first in West Africa.” So far, the virus has killed more than 1,500 people. It’s spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids, and not through casual contact.

The two previous American Ebola patients, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, heard the news about Sacra on Tuesday. All three are friends and have worked together in Liberia.

“My heart sank,” Writebol told NBC News. “I just I didn’t have any other words but ‘oh, no’. To hear the news is very sad, [knowing] the whole cycle of the progression of the disease and how that story might end.”

On Sacra’s Facebook page, dated October 13, 2013, he writes about seeing Writebol in Liberia:

Must be back in Liberia!… got to ride with David and Nancy Writebol to town yesterday–went to the used clothes market in VaiTown (the VaiTown Mall), walked around in Monrovia getting some proformas… and got to see all the usual Liberian sights, like this truck carrying charcoal (and some riders as well) on the main road to town….

This story is developing. We will update when more news is released.