CBSN

Former Ebola patient under observation in Massachusetts hospital

Dr. Rick Sacra

UMass Memorial Medical Center/UMass Medical School

Dr. Richard Sacra, who contracted Ebola while volunteering in West Africa, but was treated for the virus last month, then released was hospitalized Saturday and is being monitored by doctors in Massachussets.

Sacra, 51, went to the emergency room at a Boston-area hospital Saturday morning to have an x-ray performed. He was exhibiting a persistent cough and a low-grade fever, and feared he might be developing pneumonia, according to a statement released by SIM USA, the missionary organization he volunteered with while in Liberia.

He was transferred to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester for observation. Doctors have been in contact with health care staff at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he was treated for Ebola and released on Sept. 25.

"Because of his recent battle with the Ebola virus, his immune system is compromised," said Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the center's biocontainment unit. "The symptoms he has are indicative of a respiratory illness and are not those of someone suffering from Ebola.

"Dr. Sacra had three CDC-confirmed blood tests before he left our unit that showed him to be virus-free, so the public shouldn't be concerned that his disease has returned."

Smith said the likelihood of Ebola returning is extremely low, but doctors will continue to run tests on Sacra. Those results will be available in several days, he said.

Sacra was the third American to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus recently. The first two, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, who volunteered with the same missionary organization, were taken from West Africa and treated in an isolation unit in Atlanta. They were released in August

The fourth, Thomas Eric Duncan, was diagnosed Sept. 30 at a medical center in Dallas and is listed in critical condition.