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Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who survived Ebola, pleaded Friday for media focus to shift away from the handful of U.S. Ebola cases to the deadly West Africa outbreak. In remarks at Abilene Christian University in Texas, Brantly also expressed condolences to the family of the first victim diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Thomas Eric Duncan who died Wednesday in Dallas.
"My heart is broken for his family," he said. "Ebola is serious, it is real. It is a terrible, terrible disease for those who have it and for those who are close to them."
Noting that there has been some "panic" in the U.S. about the spread of Ebola, Brantly urged Americans to redirect their attention toward Africa. "We don’t need to be worried that a plane flying over is going to somehow contaminate us with Ebola ... We need to be putting that aside and try to love our neighbors," he said. "Our neighbors are the people in West Africa who are suffering far beyond what we can understand or fathom."
"When I got sick we had only one survivor," Brantly said in a later interview at the university. "Even before Ebola came to Liberia, just in regular medical care, death was so present. I didn’t think about death."
The Ebola death toll in West Africa has climbed to over 4,000. The World Health Organization called the outbreak “unparalleled in modern times” and warned up to 20,000 people could be infected in the coming months.