*Patrick Sawyer, 40, died of the horrific Ebola disease, in Lagos, Nigeria on Friday, before he could step foot on the plane that would have brought him home to his wife in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The Sawyer’s are originally from Liberia, but have relatives in the States as well as in West Africa.
Patrick was planning to come to America in August to celebrate the birthdays of his two girls.
Decontee Sawyer, 34, said her husband had contracted the incurable virus from his sister in Liberia. The virus has killed more than 700 people across West Africa and one man, Kent Brantley, was actually treating Ebola patients when he discovered that he, too, had the symptoms.
Sawyer had become noticeably ill on a flight from West Africa’s Liberia, where the virus is gaining speed, to Lagos in Nigeria. Health experts presented a hellish scenario when it was revealed that Sawyer had been allowed on an international flight (while carrying the virus) that could have potentially infected other passengers including those coming to America.
Now health experts are scrambling to identify and isolate any potential passengers who were on the flight with Sawyer. Lagos is Africa’s most populated city.
His devastated wife, Decontee Sawyer, shudders when she thinks how close Sawyer came to returning home to the States for his daughters’ birthdays carrying the dreaded virus.
‘It’s a global problem because Patrick could’ve easily come home with Ebola,’ Decontee said to KSTP. ‘Easy. Easy. It’s close, it’s at our front door. It knocked down my front door.’
Experts say that the risk of people contracting the virus is low, and it can’t be spread like a flu. The virus is passed along through bodily secretions such as saliva, urine, blood and sweat.
According to the WHO, people are only contagious when they start showing symptoms. But the most vulnerable and at-risk to catch the virus are health care workers and relatives that come in contact with the infected person.
Sawyer, who was an employee af the Liberian Finance Ministry, started vomiting and had bad diarrhea as he traveled on one flight with at least 50 other people. Ebola can be contracted from traces of feces or vomit, experts say.
Once Sawyer arrived in Lagos – a city of 21 million people – he was immediately quarantined and according to Nigerian authorities, his fellow travelers were advised of Ebola symptoms before they were allowed to leave. Because the virus can incubate in the system for at least 21 days, an infected person may not know they are infected for weeks.
As for locating potential people who are infected, and those they may be in contact with, many of the people aboard the flight that Sawyer was on dispersed to a variety of different cities, making it nearly impossible to locate them all.
See a very indepth video about Ebola and Dr. Brantley, the healthcare worker who contracted the virus, along with two Americans.