CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte woman who contracted the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia had served as a missionary overseas with her husband for more than a dozen years, according to her pastor.
Nancy Writebol began showing symptoms of Ebola Friday, said Samaritan's Purse, the North Carolina-based humanitarian group that serves at the hospital compound where Writebol and her husband work.
David and Nancy Writebol are missionaries for Charlotte-based S.I.M., a mission group that works with Samaritan's Purse in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
Dr. John Munro, senior pastor at Calvary Church in south Charlotte, said Sunday that the church has sponsored the Writebol's missionary work since the 90's.
"We are privileged to serve with them," said Dr. Munro. "They are an outstanding Christian couple."
Munro said he spoke to David Writebol, who relayed that his wife's condition was "grim."
Nancy Writebol is in stable condition, according to Samaritan's Purse spokesman Ken Isaacs. She is being treated with IV fluids, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory drugs. She is isolated, and her husband is being monitored but has not shown any symptoms of the disease, said Isaacs.
Writebol had been working most recently as a hygienist at the hospital unit treating Ebola patients, said Isaacs. Although she did not have direct contact with patients, her job was to decontaminate medical workers who treated them.
Isaacs said Writebol and an American doctor who has also contracted the disease, Dr. Kent Brantly, caught their symptoms early, and early treatment often leads to a better outcome.
In Liberia, about 60% of patients who contract Ebola die of the disease.
Samaritan's Purse, the CDC, and the World Health Organization are investigating how Writebol and Brantly may have contracted the virus, but have not yet discovered the source.
Both had contact with a hospital staffer who came to work Tuesday with symptoms he thought were Typhoid Fever, and died Sunday from Ebola, said Isaacs.
"We are doing everything we can to help preserve, protect, and improve lives and to help them survive this tragedy," he said.
Isaacs also reported that the virus is nearing catastrophic levels in Africa, and more medical help is needed before it spreads to the West.
Back at Calvary Church, Pastor Munro is asking the congregation to pray for the Writebols. Munro said they are doing the Lord's work, like missionaries generations ago who worked with lepers.
"These are modern-day heroes," said Munro. "We often talk about heroes, but these truly are heroes. Our hearts go out to them."