- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire National Guard general working with the U.S. military against Ebola in Africa said Friday that he feels safe and believes U.S. troops will be well-protected from the deadly virus.

Brig. Gen. Peter Corey of Whitefield spoke to reporters on a conference call from Monrovia, the capital of Liberia where the military is directing efforts against the disease that has killed more than 3,800 people. Liberia has been hardest hit with more than 2,200 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Corey says soldiers and Marines who will build 17, 100-bed treatment centers are being educated about the disease and how to minimize risk, including avoiding contact with sick people and wearing protective gear when needed.

“I would say we feel very safe,” he said. “We are not interacting directly with any persons who are infected with Ebola. No one here is shaking hands.”

Corey previously served in Liberia as the senior U.S. officer in support of a United Nations peacekeeping mission. The main challenge, he said, is the rainy season that can dump up to 40 inches of rain on the region, making already subpar roads impassable. The lack of an electrical grid or sewage treatment plants also will hamper the ability to build treatment centers.

“People are very, very worried,” Corey said of the Liberians. “I think there was a level of denial in the country for a long time. They’re keeping the families in the house, there’s no school being held currently. They know that they need help from the rest of the world to get at this problem.”

Corey’s wife and three children were worried at first but after learning more about the disease and the military’s role in Liberia, they are confident in the mission, he said.

Up to 4,000 troops could be sent to Africa to help combat the crisis.

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