HAVANA (Reuters) - The Cuban doctor who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone was in stable condition with a reduced fever and no further complications, a Cuban health official said Wednesday.
The doctor, Felix Baez, 43, cannot recall any mistake in procedure that could have led to him catching the virus from a patient, said Jorge Perez, director of the tropical diseases hospital where Cuban doctors train for their Ebola missions.
Baez, a specialist in internal medicine, is the first Cuban known to have contracted Ebola, which has killed at least 5,450 people since March in the worst outbreak of the disease on record.
“He’s doing fine. He’s lost a little appetite but otherwise has no complications at the moment,” Perez told Reuters a few hours before he was due to travel to Geneva to help with Baez’s case.
Baez, who is married with two children, was due to arrive in Geneva late Thursday, Perez said.
Some 165 Cuban doctors and nurses have gone to Sierra Leone for six-month missions, with another 53 in Liberia and 38 in Guinea.
The Cuban commitment has won international praise as more substantial than contributions from many wealthy countries.
A Geneva doctor specializing in infectious diseases will organize Baez’s care in a special hospital room separate from other wards at University Hospital, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health said.
British and Cuban doctors treating Baez in Sierra Leone reduced his fever from 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) to 37 degrees C (98.6 degrees F) using the drug duralgina, said Perez, who has reviewed medical reports on Baez and has spoken to his supervisor in Sierra Leone.
“He sent information saying he doesn’t remember how or where, doesn’t know what his mistake may have been in getting infected,” Perez said.
Doctors and nurses wear protective, full-body suits when treating Ebola patients with strict procedures on how to remove them. The Cubans trained for their mission for three weeks in Cuba and another 15 days upon arriving in West Africa.
Baez, who normally works at a military hospital in Havana, was one of 15,000 volunteers for the Ebola mission and one of 465 who received training.
“Be strong, Dad, everything’s going to be all right,” the doctor’s elder son, second-year medical student Alejandro Baez, said via official website CubaSi. “All of Cuba is waiting for you.”
Baez also has an 18-month-old son, Felix Luis.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Jonathan Oatis