- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse graduate student who was studying abroad in Sierra Leone is sharing her story after she had to leave the country amid the deadly Ebola outbreak.

The UW-La Crosse Department of International Education decided to evacuate Alexandria Berg, 23, as the crisis escalated, the La Crosse Tribune (https://bit.ly/1uhp7iP ) reported. The 23-year-old secured the last available seat on a flight to Paris and eventually made her way to western Tanzania, where her mother was working with a nonprofit she founded.

Berg hoped to continue her practical field experience in community health education there, but she was brought back to the U.S. early due to safety and liability concerns.

“I was completely devastated,” Berg said. “I didn’t want to leave.”

The university’s assistant director of international education, Susan Pham, said she believes Berg was the first UW-L student to be evacuated from a study abroad location.

“We’ve been very, very fortunate that our students have been in very safe locations,” Pham said. “Hopefully we don’t have to (evacuate a student) again, but it’s nice to know we have a plan in place for emergencies.”

Pham’s office worked closely with the adviser of Berg’s preceptorship, Gary Gilmore, to monitor daily travel warnings and reports from the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization.

“I don’t think there was a direct threat (to Berg’s health),” Gilmore said. “But I do think the impending increase in the number of cases (along with) the information we had from the Ministry of Health and the CDC were all strong indicators that the very best thing we could do was to have her depart the country.”

Although Berg didn’t see an Ebola patient firsthand, she experienced some of the panic that surrounded the epidemic.

“What you hear from WHO and other organizations is just the tip of the iceberg,” Berg said. “There’s so much more to a disease and how it affects people, socially and mentally.”

As of Monday, more than 5,800 people have contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal since March, and more than 2,800 have died.

___

Information from: La Crosse Tribune, https://www.lacrossetribune.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide