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FORT WORTH A second American working in Africa has tested positive for the Ebola virus. It is a woman who is working with the same joint relief effort as Dr. Kent Brantly.

Brantly is the Fort Worth doctor whose Ebola diagnosis was revealed on Saturday.

Brantly and Nancy Writebol are both hospitalized in Africa in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. It is there both were helping with relief efforts.

But while Brantly is so far away, friends in North Texas are rallying around him.

Brantly and his family moved to Liberia this past fall to take part in missionary work and to start a two-year fellowship with the Samaritan's Purse relief agency.

Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth has remained active in the family's life. A sign outside had this simple message on Sunday: 'Pray for Kent.'

And that's exactly what this congregation is doing.

We're told that Kent Brantly had been a church member for five years while he did his residency at John Peter Smith hospital.

Kent Smith is an elder at the church. He knew when Brantly and his family moved to Liberia last fall for medical and missionary work, it came with risk. But nothing could have prepared him for the e-mail he opened on Saturday.

'It just said that this member had talked to Kent, and he had tested positive for the Ebola virus,' Smith said.

Sunday's service was difficult, to say the least.

'There were a lot of tears and sniffles as we try to process the information and the news we've received,' Smith said.

He said that Brantly's wife and children were visiting Texas in Abilene this week when Kent was diagnosed with Ebola.

It is a dangerous and bleak diagnosis to get; Ebola has a very high fatality rate.

But friend Kent Smith said the risk wasn't enough to keep Brantly from trying to help others.

'He knew he was exposing himself to danger, but he did that willingly and voluntarily,' Smith said. 'Shows you what kind of a person he is; cares about other people more than he cares about himself.'

There is talk of moving Brantly to Europe for treatment, but there are no firm plans yet.

The Brantly family had been living in Fort Worth the past five years because Dr. Brantly was doing his family medicine residency at John Peter Smith Hospital. That's another community taking this news hard.

'That's why I think it hurts so much more when you have a person with a heart so large, a care so great, and then they come down with a virus like Ebola,' said JPS CEO Robert Earley. 'It's heartbreaking... heartbreaking for all of us.'

Ebola is one of the most deadly diseases known to man, and it is highly contagious.

The World Health Organization says this year's outbreak is the largest ever recorded. More than 670 people have died in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone since the first cases were reported earlier this year.

Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids, and that puts health workers like Brantly at high risk.

There is no known cure for Ebola, but early treatment like what Kent Brantly is now receiving improves chances for survival.

'Sadness and uncertainty, I think is the best way to describe it,' Kent Smith said.

But where there's desperation, 'there's hope,' Smith added. 'We have hope.'

And it's that hope and that prayer they are focusing on as their friend faces the fight of his life 6,000 miles away.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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