iStock/Thinkstock(BOONE, N.C.) — An American aid group on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is evacuating non-essential personnel as two if its workers fight to survive the deadly infection.
Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian charity based in Boone, North Carolina, said it would pull non-essential personnel from Liberia “because of instability and ongoing security issues in the area.”
Two workers with the group, Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, are being treated for Ebola in Liberia, where 249 people have been infected and 129 have died, according to the World Health Organization.
More than 1,200 people have contracted the virus in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in what experts have called the largest ever Ebola outbreak. At least 672 people have died, according to WHO.
“We ask that people continue to pray for Kent and Nancy and all those who are affected by Ebola, and the tremendous group of doctors and nurses who are caring for them,” Samaritan’s Purse said in a statement.
Brently and Writebol are in “serious condition,” according to the group, but have shown “a slight improvement in the past 24 hours.”
It’s unclear whether Samaritan’s Purse will evacuate health care workers.
Dr. Stephen Morris, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said there is already a lack of professional medical personnel to fight the outbreak, which can make things even more difficult for overtaxed doctors who risk infection by treating the sick.
“You can’t accidentally stick yourself with a needle or cut yourself,” Morris said, explaining of the hazards of working while tired. “I think the reality is there aren’t enough personal and resources. I think the key things that are really needed are health care personnel and others who can help in the situation, such as epidemiologists.”
More than 100 health care workers from various organizations have contracted Ebola in West Africa and at least 50 have died, according to WHO.
A spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders confirmed to ABC News that the group has no plans to pull its estimated 300 medical workers out of west Africa.
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