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    Jul 25, 2014

    Doc leading Ebola fight gets infected

    FREETOWN, Sierra Leone

    THE head doctor fighting an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has himself caught the disease, one of a growing list of medical workers infected while battling to halt its spread across West Africa.

    Ebola has killed 632 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since an outbreak began in February, straining a string of weak health systems facing one of the world's deadliest diseases, despite waves of international help.

    A statement from the president's office said that Sheik Umar Khan, 39, a Sierra Leonean virologist credited with treating more than 100 Ebola victims, had been transferred to a treatment ward run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.

    A source at the ward confirmed that the doctor was alive and receiving treatment, but gave no details of his condition.

    He has been hailed as a "national hero" by the health ministry for his efforts to lead the fight against an outbreak that has killed 206 people in the West African nation.

    There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, which can kill up to 90 per cent of those infected, although the mortality rate of the current outbreak is around 60 per cent.

    It was not immediately clear how he had caught the virus. His colleagues told Reuters that he was always meticulous with protection, wearing overalls, mask, gloves and special footwear.