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Prayers Needed: American Missionaries Contract Deadly Disease

brantlysThe families of two American missionaries serving in West Africa amidst the historic outbreak of the Ebola virus are asking for prayers for their loved ones who have contracted the deadly disease and are now fighting for their own lives.

The Daily Mail is reporting on the story of Kent Brantly, 33, a doctor and married father of two from Fort Worth Texas who was serving in Liberia as an international medical missionary with Samaritan's Purse. The area has been struggling against an unprecedented epidemic of Ebola, a highly contagious disease that kills 90 percent of its victims.

Brantly has just informed his family that he is experiencing symptoms of the deadly disease and is now in an isolation ward in a Liberian hospital. His wife and two children, who were with him until recently when they returned to the U.S.on vacation, are not showing any symptoms.

The World Health Organization reports that nearly 700 people have died from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with 127 of those cases occurring in Liberia.

"Kent is a fine young man, very compassionate, doing what he’s prepared all his life to do," said Brantly's mother, Jan.

"He’s placed his life in the hands of a loving God and our love in that God sustains us. We pray constantly for him and we solicit the prayer of the whole world. He's a brave man. He's doing what he's doing to serve his God and we are asking people to pray."

The second victim is married missionary Nancy Writebol, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who also contracted the disease in Liberia and is currently hospitalized there.

Writebol worked as a hygienist in Liberia, spraying the protective suits worn by health care workers who were treating Ebola patients. Although she is not a health care worker, she and her husband David have been working for 15 years in disease- and poverty-stricken areas of the world, such as in Ecuador and Zambia.

"It's just devastating news," said her pastor, Reverend John Munro, after receiving the bad news from David Writebol via Skype.

"He's devastated," Munro said. "He can't really be with his wife. She’s in isolation. Ebola is very contagious. She's not doing well. It's grim news."

Nancy Writebol with her husband, David Nancy Writebol with her husband, David

The current outbreak of Ebola, which started in Guinea in February and spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone within weeks, is considered to be the worst outbreak in history.

There is no known cure for the disease, which begins with symptoms including fever and sore throat, lack of appetite, stomach pain and aching muscles and joints. Infection can also cause internal bleeding as well as external bleeding from the nose, ears, mouth and rectum. Bleeding from the eyes is one of the classic symptoms of the disease. These symptoms quickly escalate to vomiting, diarrhea, and death.

Ebola is considered to be among the world's most virulent diseases because of how easily it can spread. Usually transmitted from wild animals to humans, the virus is spread through contact with blood or any other bodily fluid of an infected animal or person, including through sweat and saliva.

World health officials expressed new concerns this week when they learned that a case of Ebola has shown up in in the much more densely populated nation of Nigeria. The disease is believed to have been brought into the country by a man who entered the country by plane and brought it into Lagos, Africa's second largest city with a population of  21 million people. He died in a Lagos hospital on Friday.

Nigerian health authorities scrambled to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday by putting all ports of entry on "red alert" for any sign of diseased persons.

Before this most recent outbreak, the highest death toll attributed to an Ebola outbreak was 280 people, making this the worst outbreak on record.

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