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Ohio family grieves, worries for Liberia relatives

October 25, 2014

KENTON, Ohio (AP) — The Ebola outbreak’s rising death toll in West Africa is more than a grim statistic for a northwest Ohio family.

The Kenton Times reports that hospital pharmacy director George Wuo and his hospital nurse wife Edith say the outbreak is devastating for relatives in their native country of Liberia. Edith says she has lost 11 relatives including a sister.

The World Health Organization reported Saturday that more than 10,000 people have been infected with Ebola, and nearly half have died. Liberia has been the hardest-hit country.

The Wuo family that lives in Defiance, Ohio, has been in the United States for years, and some other younger family members were able to come to this country through a refugee program. But many others remain in Liberia.

First a nephew died in August, then a sister, a cousin and the cousin’s baby all died in the same day, Edith said.

“It was unbearable,” she said.

Edith’s mother Yah lives in Columbus with Edith’s brother Martin. She said her mother is in shock from the series of bad news reports from home.

“It has been like a dream,” Edith said. “All of us have good days and bad days, but I know it is worse on her.”

They worry about the conditions of their relatives, and what might happen next.

George, who works at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Kenton, stays in touch with his family in Liberia. They haven’t been directly impacted by the disease so far.

“It is very hard not to worry who will be next,” he said.

“It is like they are under self-imposed house arrest,” he said. “That is the only way they survive.”

Wuo said they send money and try to help their relatives any way they can.

He said while the United States has stepped up aid to West Africa, more international help is needed.

“The U.S. is doing an excellent job now,” he said. “But West Africa needs much help internationally. The only way to get a handle on this disease here is to treat it at its source.”

“We are all connected somehow and we need to get people educated to fight this disease,” added Edith, a nurse at Fulton County hospital in Wauseon.

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