Leading Sierra Leone doctor dies in Ebola epidemic

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan died from Ebola virus on Tuesday afternoon at Kailahun treatment centre in Sierra Leone. Dr. Khan led the response in Sierra Leone to the current Ebola outbreak there and treated dozens of patients. On Thursday, Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency, quarantining Ebola epicentres.

Electron micrograph of Ebola virus.
Image: Centers for Disease Control / Dr. Frederick Murphy.

The previous Tuesday, Minister of Health and Sanitation Miatta Kargbo announced Dr. Khan had contracted Ebola. Dr. Khan was moved to the Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Kailahun. A few days before he was admitted, three other senior staff in his department at the Kenema Government Hospital died from Ebola, including one, Nurse Mbalu Fonnie, with more than two decades' experience with hemorrhagic fever.

September 11 of this year would have been Dr. Khan's 40th birthday. In an interview on May 20, Dr. Khan told Awareness Times his department does the only testing south of the Sahara Desert for hemorrhagic fever such as Lassa and Ebola; a decade ago, these tests would have been done in Germany. He warned about the possibility of fresh outbreaks and necessity of engaging the public in health education and prevention.