Sheik Umar Khan, the doctor who was leading Sierra Leone’s battle against the worst Ebola outbreak on record, has died from the virus.
The West African country’s chief medical officer Brima Kargbo said the 39-year-old Khan passed away on Tuesday.
Khan, who treated over 100 patients, died after dozens of local health workers and the infection of two American medics in neighboring Liberia.
Khan, hailed as a “national hero” by Sierra Leone’s Health Ministry, had been moved to a treatment ward run by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the far north of the country.
He lost his life less than a week after his diagnosis was announced.
“It is a big and irreparable loss to Sierra Leone as he was the only specialist the country had in viral hemorrhagic fevers,” Kargbo said.
On Sunday, American physician, Dr. Kent Brantly, and his fellow countrywoman Nancy Writebol, who is an aid worker, were diagnosed with Ebola a day after Liberian physician, Dr. Samuel Brisbane, died of the disease.
Ebola is believed to have claimed 672 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the epidemic began in February, according to the World Health Organization.
There is currently no known cure for Ebola, a form of hemorrhagic fever whose symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding.
The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces or sweat. It can also be spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
Ebola remains one of the world’s most virulent diseases, which kills between 25 to 90 percent of those who fall sick.
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