Atlanta (CNN) — Global fears of Ebola spread Wednesday after two more countries reported deaths of citizens they suspect had contracted the disease in West Africa.
Nigeria reported that a nurse died after treating someone believed to have contracted Ebola in Liberia. And Saudi Arabia reported that a man died, apparently of the virus, after a trip to Sierra Leone. The World Health Organization did not immediately confirm.
If confirmed, the two deaths would bring the worldwide total to 889. Nearly all of the deaths have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
The nurse in Nigeria had helped care for a Liberian-American man who had traveled to Nigeria, where he died, the country’s Ministry of Health said Wednesday.
Nigeria has also confirmed another five cases of Ebola, the Health Ministry said.
The Saudi man died Wednesday at a specialized hospital in Jeddah, the Saudi Ministry of Health said.
He had been in intensive care since late Monday “after exhibiting symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever following a business trip to Sierra Leone,” the ministry said in a statement.
More than 1,600 people have been infected in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.
Two patients are being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta: American doctor Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who had been in Liberia. Emory is one of four U.S. institutions capable of providing such treatment.
“This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.
“It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped,” he said. “We know what needs to be done.”
The United States is planning to send 50 health experts to West Africa to help contain the outbreak, which President Barack Obama addressed in remarks Tuesday, saying the citizens of the affected countries are in Americans’ thoughts and prayers.
Frieden said the 50 experts from the CDC will work to combat the outbreak and help implement stronger systems to fight the disease.
The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which affects multiple organ systems in the body and is often accompanied by bleeding.
Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. They later progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
Ebola spreads through contact with organs and bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, urine and other secretions of infected people. It has no known cure. The most common treatment requires supporting organ functions and maintaining bodily fluids such as blood and water long enough for the body to fight off the infection.
(Copyright 2014, CNN, All rights reserved.)