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A Nigerian nurse who treated a man with Ebola is now dead and five other people are sick with one of the world's most virulent diseases after coming into contact with him.

A Nigerian nurse who treated a man with Ebola is now dead and five other people are sick with one of the world's most virulent diseases after coming into contact with him.

The growing number of cases in Lagos, a megacity of 21 million people, comes as authorities acknowledge they did not treat Patrick Sawyer as an Ebola patient and isolate him for the first 24 hours after his arrival in Nigeria last month.

Sawyer, a 40-year-old American of Liberian descent with a wife and three young daughters in Minnesota, was traveling on a business flight to Nigeria when he fell ill.

The death of the unidentified nurse marks the second Ebola death in Nigeria, and is a very worrisome development since it is the Africa's most populous country and Lagos, where the deaths occurred, one of its biggest cities.

Fever

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry says a man who was being tested for the Ebola virus and has died. The 40-year-old returned on Sunday from Sierra Leone, where there has been an Ebola outbreak, and was then hospitalised in Jiddah after showing symptoms of the viral hemorrhagic fever.

Spain's Defence Ministry said a medically-equipped Airbus 310 is ready to fly to Liberia to repatriate a Spanish missionary priest who has Ebola. The priest, Miguel Pajares, is one of three missionaries being kept in isolation at the San Jose de Monrovia Hospital in Liberia who has tested positive for the virus.

Ebola, which has no proven vaccine or treatment, has killed nearly 900 people this year in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria and health officials in many countries are struggling to halt its spread.

Health experts say those medical workers in Nigeria now infected from Sawyer would not have been contagious to their neighbours or family members until they started showing symptoms of their own.

The delay in enforcing infection control measures, though, is another setback in the battle to stamp out the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

alarming

The spector of the virus spreading through Nigeria is particularly alarming, said David Morse, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University's School of Public Health.

"It makes you nervous when so many people are potentially at risk," he said.

Ebola can only be transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is sick - blood, semen, saliva, urine, feces or sweat.

Millions live in cramped conditions without access to flushable toilets and signs posted across the city tell people not to urinate in public.

Since the incubation period can last up to three weeks, some of the Nigerians who treated Sawyer are only now showing signs of illness.

hnews@herald.ie


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