Minnesota Health Officials Address Ebola Concerns

Updated: 07/28/2014 5:45 PM
Created: 07/28/2014 4:20 PM
By: Ellen Galles

The Minnesota Department of Health is working with leaders in the local Liberian community to address concerns about an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Health officials are meeting with members of the West African community Monday.

The health department says it's providing resources and information to community members, and is working on creating materials for local West African media about Ebola and travel precautions.

Patrick Sawyer is believed to be one of the latest Ebola casualties. He lived in Liberia but has family in Minnesota.  Last week, he flew from city to city across Africa. He started in Liberia, had a stop in Ghana and eventually landed in Nigeria.  He died shortly after landing in Nigeria.

His case has health officials scrambling to find out how many people he came in contact with and implementing tighter restrictions at the Liberian airport.

His wife says Sawyer was supposed to return to Minnesota next month to visit his daughters.

"Now three little girls will never get to know their father," said Decontee Sawyer. "We have to fight back.  This virus declared war, and I'm ready to fight back."

The health department also says it's aware of the potential for Minnesotans to travel to and from West Africa. Since the outbreak began, officials have alerted Minnesota health care providers to be on the lookout for anyone with symptoms of the virus.

Travelers are considered to be at a low risk, but must practice careful hygiene and avoid contact with bodily fluids of sick people.

The Associated Press Contributed to this Story.

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