Massachusetts resident is third American to contract Ebola - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Massachusetts resident is third American to contract Ebola

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The third American to contract the deadly Ebola virus is from Massachusetts.

Dr. Rick Sacra has worked in and out of Liberia since 1995.

Sacra, from Holden, MA, knew he wanted to be a missionary doctor since he was 10 years old.

His brother tells CBS he moved to Liberia with his family about 20 years ago after working from SIM since the 1980s. He moved back to the United States just recently, only to make sure his sons could attend high school and college here.

Since returning to the U.S., Sacra practices medicine at Family Health Center in Worcester, MA. He has spent a lot of time traveling back to Liberia, though, dedicated to his work.

"Rick has a heart for Liberia," his coworker Dr. Virginia Van Duyne, assistant professor of family medicine and community health at University of Massachusetts in Worcester, said. "He even stayed during one of the horrible times during the civil wars where he evacuated his family but stayed behind to make sure the people had the care that they needed."

His passion to serve is the reason he returned to Liberia recently.

"He volunteered just a month ago when Dr. Brantley and Nancy tested positive to Ebola," Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, said. "Rick called and said, 'I am ready to go.'"

Now it's not clear how Sacra contracted the virus. While he was not working directly with Ebola patients in Liberia, the thought is that one of his patients had an undiagnosed case and passed it on.

"They check patients at the hospital before admittance for Ebola symptoms, and there is a strong possibility that the Ebola were masked and not presenting themselves with a particular patient," Johnson said.

Family and coworkers are hoping for a full recovery.

"He is the consummate family physician," Dr. Warren Ferguson, University of Massachusetts medical school professor, said. "Not only is he incredibly bright, incredibly skilled with his hands, able to perform a number of medical procedures, but is also just a wonderful human being."

CBS3 also spoke exclusively with a Baystate Medical Center doctor who is friends with Sacra. His story will be on CBS 3 first at 4 on Thursday.

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