MA doctor cured of Ebola back in the hospital

By Melissa Randall

The Massachusetts doctor cured of Ebola last month is back in the hospital as of Saturday. Dr. Richard Sacra of Holden will spend at least the next 36 hours in isolation at Umass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester as a precaution. SIM USA, the missionary group he works for, confirmed that he is the patient being treated. 

SIM says Dr. Sacra visited a Boston-area hospital emergency room Saturday morning because of a persistent cough and fever. He was transferred to Umass for observation as a precaution under CDC guidelines. Doctors say it appears Sacra is suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection. While they believe this illness is not a recurrence of Ebola, they are erring on the side of caution. He is in stable condition and feeling better as of Sunday afternoon but still has a fever and cough, according to officials at UMass.

“Dr. Sacra is in stable condition and being monitored carefully. We’re waiting for final test results from the CDC which we expect to receive late Monday,” said Dr. Robert Finberg, MD, professor and chair of medicine at Umass Memorial Medical Center, an infectious disease expiring leading Dr. Sacra’s team of doctors.

Sacra’s team has been in contact with his doctors at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha where he was treated and released last month. 

“Because of his recent battle with the Ebola virus, his immune system is compromised,” said Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit and one of the doctors who treated Sacra. “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.”

Even though the likelihood of Dr. Sacra having a relapse is extremely low, doctors are running tests to be sure. The results of the Ebola testing are expected within the next two days, hospital officials say.

UMass Medical Center says they are well equipped to handle infectious disease assessment and containment. 

© WLNE-TV 2014