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Local Researcher Has Close Ties To Ebola Stricken West Africa

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ERIE-- "Those taken into the hospital, die in the hospital,” public health researcher Murtada Tunis says. “They don't come back."

It's a race against the clock. The enemy, Ebola, a contagious virus claiming more than 1100 lives in West Africa over the course of just weeks. It's nearly impossible to rebound as the virus attacks your internal organs. There is no cure or vaccine and 90% of people do not survive. 

"Because people are not familiar about this disease in West Africa, there's an extreme sense of panic, fear and distrust," Tunis explains.

Cases are multiplying by the dozens throughout Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. It's where Tunis, a PH .D candidate calls home.

“Over there in Africa, there's a lot of ignorance [because] a huge percentage of the population is illiterate.”

Public health and education drives his research. Tension got so bad, health officials confirmed Monday, dozens of residents in the Liberian town of Monrovia attacked a quarantine center where people were getting monitored for possible infection.

"Hospital managers are not communicating well with the communities, so the communities have lost trust in the hospital system,” Tunis adds. “[We have to] interrupt that spread through public education, mass information, and the like."

Tunis produces a radio broadcast in Erie that gives updates on treatment advancements and prevention. The broadcast is then fed to several townships throughout Sierra Leone.

"That is the only way some of us have been able to help and that is something that people must be able to do," Tunis says.

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