CCU professor in Sierra Leone helps prevent spread of Ebola virus

Published: Aug. 1, 2014 at 10:29 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - What started as a research trip to Africa, quickly turned into a trip about Ebola prevention for CCU Assistant Professor Fredanna M'Cormack.

M'Cormack is in Sierra Leone; that's one of the three countries most affected, but she says she's not afraid.

"I do keep covered when I'm in certain communities, but generally speaking, I don't find myself to be at risk because I don't put myself at risk," said M'Cormack.

The assistant professor went to Sierra Leon at the beginning of the summer to research women's health issues but was asked to assist with the bigger issue. Now, she is teaching prevention.

"We continuously talk about hand washing and using good water to minimize people's risk," she said.

"With Ebola virus, you have to be in physical contact with bodily fluids in order to contact it, so it's difficult to come in contact with someone's fluids, their blood, sweat and so on," said M'Cormack.

With 729 people dead and 1300 others suspected of being infected in Africa, according to the World Health Organization, travelers are being urged to take precautions.

The virus starts out with fever and fatigue and if it's not treated, can turn deadly within two weeks.

The CDC is advising against travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

There is no vaccine or a cure and 50 - 90 percent of people with the virus die.

An estimated 14.5 million travel to the Grand Strand every year, but the health community says the risk for this area is low.

When M'Cormack returns next week, she says she will be heavily screened in Brussels and then again in the U.S., as officials fight to keep the disease from spreading further.

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