Doctor cleared of Ebola virus feeling better

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WORCESTER, Mass. — A doctor admitted to a Massachusetts hospital this weekend for an apparent respiratory infection after surviving the Ebola virus was in stable condition and feeling better Sunday, but still has a fever and cough, hospital officials said as they awaited Ebola testing results.

Officials at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester said Dr. Richard Sacra remained in isolation as a precaution. He was admitted Saturday and is being treated for an upper respiratory infection that doctors believe is not related to Ebola he contracted in Africa.

Dr. Robert Finberg, who is leading Sacra’s medical team, said at a news conference Sunday that doctors are confident Sacra’s symptoms are not related to the Ebola he contracted in Africa. Finberg and hospital President Patrick Muldoon stressed that there is no threat to the public and that the hospital is operating under normal conditions.

Finberg said results of Ebola testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be available within the next two days.

“People are very concerned, that’s why we’re being extremely cautious,” Finberg said. “We’re not taking risks with Dr. Sacra and his caregivers.”

Asked why doctors believe Sacra’s symptoms are not related to Ebola, Finberg said he was not aware of any case of Ebola recurring in surviving patients, and Sacra is feeling better and eating.

“People with Ebola don’t feel like eating. They feel like throwing up,” Finberg said. “The fact that he’s eating and he feels pretty good, I think is a very good sign.”

Finberg said Sacra was just being responsible when he decided to go a hospital.

Sacra, of Holden, returned to Massachusetts on Sept. 25 after weeks of treatment at an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital.

He spent much of the last two decades in Liberia, working with a missionary group. He also works at Family Health Center of Worcester.

Bruce Johnson, president of the SIM USA missionary group, said in a news release that Sacra first visited a Boston-area hospital emergency room Saturday morning because of a persistent cough and low-grade fever and concern that he might be getting pneumonia. Johnson said Sacra was transferred to UMass Memorial for observation as a precaution under CDC guidelines.

Muldoon said the CDC advised hospital officials to keep Sacra in isolation until the Ebola testing results come in. Muldoon said UMass Memorial is well-quipped to handle infectious diseases.

The Associated Press

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