Sierra Leone's Leading Ebola Doctor Contracts Ebola

Sheik Umar Khan
Sheik Umar Khan, head doctor fighting the deadly tropical virus Ebola in Sierra Leone, poses for a picture in Freetown, June 25, 2014. Umaru Fofana/Reuters

The doctor at the forefront of Sierra Leone's fight against the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in the region has contracted Ebola himself, Reuters reported Wednesday.

As of this week, Ebola has claimed 632 lives in three West African countries, according to the World Health Organization. Virologist Sheik Umar Khan, 39, has treated more than 100 victims of the disease. Sierra Leone Health Minister Miatta Kargbo called him a "national hero" and said she would "do anything and everything in my power to ensure he survives," according to Reuters.

Last month, Khan told Reuters that he was aware of the risk of himself contracting the disease, which kills up to 90 percent of those infected. "I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life," he said. "Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for somebody who is sickened by disease. Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk."

Nurses treating Ebola at the Sierra Leone government hospital have been on strike since Monday. Three fellow nurses are believed to have died of the virus, the BBC reports.

Sierra Leone alone has suffered 206 Ebola deaths thus far.

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