Sheik Umar Khan, hailed as a "national hero" by Sierra Leone's health ministry, has caught the very disease he has been fighting since February, Reuters reports.
Khan reportedly contracted the deadly tropical virus Ebola, although a statement released by the West African country's president's office did not say how the virologist became infected, nor offer details on his current condition. Ebola can kill up to 90 percent of those who become infected, and there is no cure or vaccine. The current outbreak began in a remote region of neighboring Guinea back in February, but it has since spread across Sierra Leone and Liberia as well. The World Health Organization said on Saturday that 632 people have died from the illness so far.
Khan, whose colleagues said has always been meticulous about protecting himself during checkups by wearing overalls, mask, and gloves, nevertheless had told Reuters in June that he still worried about contracting the disease.
"Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for somebody who is sickened by disease. Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk," he said. "I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life."