Byron woman watches as Ebola ravages her homeland
Kolloh Nimley, of Byron, gets a daily email from her brother with a rundown of the day’s numbers for Ebola cases and deaths in Liberia. Nimley's brother, Tijil Tyee, has a pretty big job: He's the chief pharmacist of Liberia.
Kolloh Nimley, of Byron, gets a daily email from her brother with a rundown of the day's numbers for Ebola cases and deaths in Liberia.
Nimley's brother, Tijil Tyee, has a pretty big job: He's the chief pharmacist of Liberia.
Nimley, who emigrated from Liberia to the U.S. in 1992, has kept in touch with her brother through email and Skype. She thinks he's relatively safe from contracting the disease because he's well versed in public health. Anything is possible, though, she said.
"I think he knows what to do. … But no matter what he does, he's at risk," Nimley said.
Tyee's 12 kids are in Liberia with him, too, she said.
"So far, all of his children are OK," Nimley said. "We pin it on hope and take it one day at a time."
Nimley's concerns for her family aren't overblown – Liberia has reported 2,413 deaths from Ebola since the outbreak started, according to numbers updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 29. The country is one of three West African nations, along with Guinea and Sierra Leone, experiencing widespread levels of Ebola transmission.
So far, 13,676 people have contracted the disease in those three countries. Of those, 4,910 have died, according to the CDC.
Four people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Ebola, and one, Thomas Eric Duncan, died from the disease in early October.
The World Health Organization recently released a statement that cases appeared to be slowing in Liberia , possibly by as much as 25 percent week over week, and Nimley said that's what the numbers show from her brother as well.
The latest weekly report from Tyee shows far fewer cases, down from a high in the past 21 days of more than 160 new Ebola cases on Oct. 17 to about 30 new cases on Oct. 27, the most recent date.
"I think things are going to calm down a lot," Nimley said.
But then the real work of building a proper public health infrastructure will begin, she said.
Hopefully, addressing the infrastructure needs will "give the country the advantage needed to withstand another epidemic," Nimley said.
There's also a need for public education in Liberia on the modes of transmission for Ebola. People need to be more aware not to touch the dead bodies of diseased people, Nimley said.
"For the Liberian people, that's a very hard thing not to touch their loved ones that have died," she said.
Southeastern Minnesota has a Liberian population, though they aren't as organized as those in other cities, Nimley said. She doesn't think she's lost any family members or friends in the epidemic.
"But I feel tied to my homeland. It doesn't matter where you are; it's still home," she said.
Nimley's brother sent her a list of supplies needed in Liberia, and he also told her that sending cash isn't helping out much — "There is nothing to buy."
The following items are needed: Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), rain boots, face and nose masks, disposable gowns, aprons, thermometers, chlorine powder, surgical gloves, examination gloves, spraying cans, hand sanitizers, mattresses and bedding, juices and rice.
Nimley said people interested in donating supplies can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She also suggests something simple: "Keep the people of Liberia in your prayers."
Ebola cases in West Africa
Total cases: 1,906
Laboratory confirmed cases: 1,391
Total cases: 6,535
Laboratory confirmed cases: 2,515
Total cases: 5,235
Laboratory confirmed cases: 3,700
(Source: CDC update on Oct. 29)